The past few months have seen plenty of divided and divisive thoughts and actions by a wide range of people. Disagreements mostly politically driven and the fallout from negative conversations are never difficult to find.
That is the environment that saw a group of athletes to use their voice in a powerful way, not to tear down, but to promote unity.
Wednesday night before the tip of the Kent State vs Mississippi Valley State men’s basketball game the players invited a number of fans, including university president Beverly Warren, down to the court to link arms during the playing of the national anthem to as sophomore guard Jalen Avery said postgame “make a stand for unity”. The players wanted to make it very clear that doing this was not a protest, but rather a statement. Their intention is to bring together rather than to tear down.
The touching gesture by the Kent State basketball team was completely player driven according to coach Rob Senderoff.
Coach Senderoff also went on to say that his African American players have faced discrimination just because the color of their skin, but the statement they wanted to make was they were better than that, they were people and the ultimate goal was to bring unity to the campus.
Post game, Avery gave credit to senior guard Deon Edwin who came to both the team and coaching staff with the idea. Avery also said that the pregame show of unity during the anthem will continue all season.
Predictably this has gained national attention by major outlets, including a spot on ESPN’s Sports Center this morning.
The ultimate result and scope of this player led initiative is unclear at the moment, but one thing is certain, Kent State and MAC fans can be proud of their athletes for attempting to change the negative rhetoric around this country.