The boycotts, protests, marches walkouts across the sports landscape continued today and this time it was in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, where legendary football coach Nick Saban led a march of hundreds of the university’s student-athletes which was organized to protest racial injustice in the United States.
Saban was at the front of a large crowd of players who walked from the Mal Moore athletic facility to Foster Auditorium’s schoolhouse door.
Senior running back Najee Harris walked next to Saban wearing a T-shirt reading, “Defend Black Lives.” Other players walked behind Saban holding a banner reading, “Black Lives Matter.”
Saban later spoke in front of the schoolhouse door, where Alabama governor George Wallace infamously resisted federal desegregation efforts in 1963.
“Today I’m like a proud parent,” Saban said at the end of the march. “I’m proud of our team, I’m proud of our messengers over here and I’m very proud of the message. I’m very proud of the ’All lives can’t matter until Black lives matter’ video that we did early on that I think had a very positive impact. That was something we did together as a team.
“This is something that the team decided to do together as a team, so I’m very proud and supportive of what they are trying to say, and in a peaceful and intelligent way. I’m very pleased to be here today.”
“Sports has always created a platform for social change,” Saban said. “For each of us involved in sports, I think we have a responsibility and obligation to do that in a responsible way and use our platform in a positive way to try to create social change in positive ways.
“Through this process, I’ve learned a lot from our players. I don’t get to see the world through the same lens that a lot of our players do. I think I respect and appreciate the lens they see the world in and they live the world in. We had various speakers that I think contributed that education as well, whether it was Condoleezza Rice, Charles Barkley, Stephen A. Smith, Joey Galloway, Tony Dungy. All those people had an interesting way that we could all make positive change.
“So this is what helped me grow in my role as a leader: to listen to the players, to learn from the players and to give them the opportunity to do things that could impact social change today.”
He was joined by a group of speakers that included Harris and Alabama athletics director Greg Byrne.