NACOGDOCHES, Texas (KTRE) - The Stephen F. Austin football program is opening up on their decision to kneel, as a way to protest racial injustice, following their opening touchdown against UTEP on Sept. 5.
The moment happened after SFA scored on their opening drive. When the team went out to kick the ball all 11 members knelled for 25 seconds causing the team to get a penalty. UTEP declined the penalty. Head Coach Colby Carthel was in support of his players on the field. The majority of players for both teams took a knee as well and from the broadcast audio the stadium remained mostly silent.
Running back and member of the SFA Athletic Leadership council Josh McGowen explained this was something that was thought out and not a spur of the moment event. McGowen aid there were several team meeting and small group meetings for individuals to tell their stories of how racism has impacted them. Once they had an idea of what to do they talked to their coaches and athletic department administrators.
“We came up with the idea of taking a knee during the first kickoff. It wasn’t going to interfere with anything else,” McGowen said. “Just taking a knees shows that we are being supportive and that we are going to take leaps and strides to make change. For us to go out and do it and to have coach allow us to do it, UTEP to join us and their fans to sit their in silence meant a lot to us and the team.”
A clip of the game broadcast video was shared by ESPN, which was broadcasting the game on ESPN 3, and comments immediately started to roll in. A lot of those were negative to the school but some were also supportive.
“It was very respectful,” Carthel said. No one can get it construed with being disrespectful to the country or the flag because it was not during the national anthem. It was just 25 seconds in a game where everyone could pause and reflect or have a moment of silence. In my case I took the time to pray. Pray for this country and pray that we are more civil towards each other.”
SFA would lost the game 24-14 after opening up with a 14-3 lead. The ’Jacks are off until they travel to UTSA on Sept.19.