Clemson football players attempted to promote unity and acceptance.
It had the opposite effect on some fans.
The Tigers for Saturday night’s season-opener at Wake Forest wore helmet decals that read “Love,” “Equality,” “Black Lives Matter” and “Put a Stop to Racism.” The team’s official Twitter page, @ClemsonFB, put out a photo showing all for with the words “Playing with a purpose.”
And it created quite a division on the social media platform, plenty of praise but also things like this:
“Love I can support. BLM? No.”
“Done with Clemson football. This is (expletive deleted).”
“Never watching again. Selling all my Clemson merch and donating it to the local PD. You can have the Marxism and lose a fan.” Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence has become the face and also the voice of college football on social issues. He and running back Darien Rencher from Anderson (T.L. Hanna High) helped organize a campus protest against police brutality and have joined with other student-athletes across the country in a movement they call #OurVoiceMatters. Lawrence and Rencher said last week that Clemson players were planning things for game days to bring awareness throughout the season. They aren’t likely to back down because some don’t agree.
“Over the course of the past year,” Lawrence recently posted on Twitter, “our country has witnessed some of the most atrocious racial injustices against countless Black and African-American people. Too many have fallen victim to racial injustice and systematic inequities. Enough is enough. Real change must come.”
Players are also pushing voter registration and for coaches to allow time for players to vote; opportunities to meet with school presidents about race injustice; and the creation of programs for students in need of help with school supplies. Lawrence said Clemson players met with head coach Dabo Swinney for approval on each public demonstration they have planned and that he is on board.
“Listen, I support my guys,” Swinney said Sunday night in a teleconference following the Tigers’ 37-13 victory in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. “Not everybody is going to think the same and that is never going to be the case. But these are young people that have been challenged with a lot of things. They are developing young people. They came up with several things. They got together as a team on what they wanted to do, just like all the teams are doing.
“… Nobody is ever going to fully agree on certain things. But, hopefully, people can respect our young men and what they believe in and what their different causes are that they want to bring awareness to or support or whatever that may be through whatever platforms have been made available to them.”