University of Texas football coach Tom Herman has spoken out about the "double-standard" toward black-student athletes in the wake of George Floyd's murder. He spoke with the Austin American-Statesman and said that fans might cheer on black players when they take the field. However, they may not treat the players the same away from the football field.
"Can the average fan relate? No, they can't," Herman said. "There's a double standard maybe a little bit. We're going to pack 100,000 people into DKR [Darrell K Royal Stadium] and millions watch on TV that are predominantly white — not all of them certainly, but most of 'em white. We're gonna cheer when they score touchdowns, and we're gonna hug our buddy when they get sacks or an interception.
"But we gonna let them date our daughter? Are we going to hire them in a position of power in our company? That's the question I have for America," Herman continued. "You can't have it both ways. And if you're going to cheer them and love them for three-and-a-half hours a Saturday in the fall, you better have the same feelings for them off the field, because they're human beings. They deserve the same amount of respect and human rights that all of us do in this country when we agreed on the social contract to be a member of the United States."
As Herman explained, he can't relate to African Americans in certain situations. For example, he has a different type of fear when he does an illegal maneuver in his car. He worries about the price of the ticket. He doesn't worry about "getting dragged out of his car" and getting killed due to something he said or did during the traffic stop.
Following Floyd's murder, Herman held a virtual three-hour meeting with his entire football team. He let them vent, voice their opinions, and discuss the ongoing protests and systemic racism. He said that the emotions were all over as the team discussed options for how to come together and unite as a team in pursuit of real change. Herman also said that there was an emphasis on changing the system from the inside out.
"Sheriffs, district attorneys and mayors, they're all elected officials," Herman said. "So we're going to do a better job of educating our guys on not only the importance of voting but how to do it and how to educate yourselves on particular candidates. So I think I wanted to get across to them that, you know, that change isn't gonna happen overnight."
When it comes to social media and voicing opinions, Herman and the athletic department did not put restrictions on the players. They said that these opinions are important to the ongoing dialogue about race. Herman simply told the players that he "has their backs."