Once again, the Nebraska men’s basketball program is one of the groups on the forefront of student-athlete activism within Husker athletics.
On Thursday afternoon, four days after the police-involved shooting of Kenosha, Wisconsin native Jacob Blake, Nebraska basketball head coach Fred Hoiberg and his players took a public stand against police brutality and racial inequality.
Each player donned a black shirt, shorts and mask, and almost every player gave the name of a victim of police brutality that they were standing for. Among the victims named were Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tamir Rice and Alton Sterling.
Only three members of the program did something different. Hoiberg said he was standing for “all black lives,” and junior guard Teddy Allen and senior guard Kobe Webster delivered prepared remarks to those in attendance.
“We stand here as one to find ways to educate people to hopefully stop this terrible trend of lives being lost for no reason,” Webster said. “This is not a political fight, this is about being a decent human being.”
Webster went to say that he realized that the team won’t be able to change everything going on in the world by taking a stand today. The team’s goal, according to Webster, is to have the Lincoln community and state of Nebraska stand behind them in realizing that injustices like these are not acceptable.
“We cannot allow this great country to be filled with so much hatred and anger towards one another,” Webster said. “It is not a place we want to live in knowing that when we leave the house, we may not return because someone views us as a threat.”
Allen echoed Webster’s sentiments, saying that we all come from different backgrounds and have had different obstacles to overcome in life. But due to the color of his skin, Allen says he is at a “higher risk” not only when trying to get past these obstacles, but in going through everyday life.
“We are tired of talking about the same things over and over while losing precious lives along the way,” Allen said. “Are we fighting a pointless fight? How many more hashtags need to be created for people to start caring?”
Allen went on to put a call out to a larger audience, saying that we cannot only care about these issues when it is convenient for us or impacts us. Caring for other life, according to Allen, should fall within “basic human ideals.”
“We stand here together as Black and White people, making it clear that we are sickened by the events taking place in our country regarding police brutality and systemic injustices towards our Black people,” Allen said. “We want to play a role in change, and we want you all to join us. No more hashtags, only change.”
Multiple players took to social media in the minutes after the demonstration, voicing their support and unity behind the cause. Hoiberg doubled down on his support for his players, saying that he is “proud of these guys” and that he “stands behind them 100%”
This isn’t the first time that Hoiberg’s team has been central in discussing race-related issues in society. After George Floyd was killed by police officers in Minneapolis, Minnesota in late May, Hoiberg was the first head coach at Nebraska to release a personal statement on the matter.
According to Hoiberg’s statement, the team held a meeting when student-athletes returned to campus in early June to “come together and make positive change.”