On Feb. 27, Queens College men’s basketball head coach Darryl Jacobs no longer lead the Division II program after a number of players complained about abusive behavior.
The basketball team boycotted practices and prepared to forfeit the season’s final two games against Roberts Wesleyan and Daemen unless actions were taken.
Athletes staging protest to draw attention on important social issues is something going on for decades. Actions speak louder than words.
College athletes, as one example, are not afraid to boycott team activities to stand up against something they believe is wrong.
Last November, the University of Missouri football team threatened to boycott football-related activities until school president Tim Wolfe resigned or was fired. Wolfe was criticized over his negligence toward a series of incidents on campus, including racial slurs and the discovery of a swastika on campus. Two days later, Wolfe stepped down.
Even professional athletes draw attention to issues like the Los Angeles Clippers did in 2014. The team protested former team owner Donald Sterling after a tape of him released by TMZ contained racist remarks.
Before the Clippers played against the Golden State Warriors in a playoff game, they silently protested before and during the game. Players before the game wore an inside-out shirt excluding the Clippers logo or name. During the game, players wore black armbands and wristbands along with black socks.
In March 2012, Dwayne Wade, LeBron James and the entire Miami Heat team put up a photo on Twitter with the players wearing hoodies, and the tweet included #WeAreTrayvonMartin. It referred to Trayvon Martin, the 16-year-old teen fatally shot in Florida by George Zimmerman.
In general, the history of sports does not just include players trying to score points and achieve victory. Sports reflect a collective where the individuals work together to achieve a common goal. Often times, the space to do this is positive and harmonious.
But, in the case of Jacobs, there are times when players feel harassed and bullied. Jacobs, according to former assistant coaches Steve Schneider and Mike Carrera in The New York Daily News, referred to the players as “losers” or “cancer.”
For any head coach to display such disrespect and arrogance to players is unforgivable. These players spend four years, sometimes more, of their life at a college to grow and to learn. An unsafe environment only creates problems for everyone involved in it.
But the actions taken by the men’s basketball team reflect actions other athletes, professional and collegiate, took in the past when faced with conflicts and problems. Their commendable stand against someone with a stuck-up attitude is not unique to QC. Rather, it points to athletes as competitors with a conscience.
As competitors, they work with teammates to achieve their goals like winning a game. But they know, to do this, the staff needs to provide support they deserve.