In recent weeks numerous professional and college athletes and teams have used their platform to make social statements in regards to the deaths of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice and others. Some have worn shirts with the phrase “I Can’t Breathe,” while others have gone with “#BlackLivesMatter.”
Saturday the California women’s basketball team wore handmade shirts, with the names of victims of violence on the front and the phrases “#BlackLivesMatter” and “We Are Cal” on the back, also struck the “hands up, don’t shoot” pose during the national anthem.
However unlike other athletes and teams who have joined the movement, Cal’s players were also moved to act by an effigy of a black man being hung from Sather Gate on Saturday.
“Earlier this week, the captains came to me and said, as a team, they wanted to wear “I Can’t Breathe” shirt next Sunday when we play at home against Louisville,” Cal head coach Lindsay Gottlieb said in a statement released by the school following the team’s loss to Long Beach State. “This morning, we got out of shootaround and were quickly met with images from our campus that were disturbing. These images may have been to bring awareness to injustice, or they may have been an act of cruelty; either way, they elicited strong emotions from everyone.
“The entire team came to me. They were compelled to act. We met for 45 minutes about how to best use our voices. As a group, they decided to wear shirts that brought attention to lives lost – recently and throughout history – and to stand and say that black lives matter; all lives matter.”
Over the last week the Georgetown men’s basketball team and the Notre Dame women’s team have also worn “I Can’t Breathe” T-Shirts. Also, Oregon’s Dwayne Benjamin and Jordan Bell struck a “hands up, don’t shoot” pose during the national anthem last week.