Fort Worth Dunbar football coach Todd Lawson said some of his players have approached him about participating in the nationwide protest movement that so many professional athletes have joined, and want to maintain, even though it is against the wishes/threats made by President Donald Trump.
“I told them, ‘Whatever you decide to do, come to me as a group and I’ll involve your parents and the administrators and we’ll hack it out for the best situation to go,’” Lawson said in the Dunbar locker room this week.
He continued telling the players, “I’m not against you all standing your ground and voicing your opinion, but this is the way I’d like you to do it.”
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Dunbar’s first football game is Sept. 1 against Dallas Kimball at Clark Stadium. Fort Worth ISD athletic director Todd Vesely was unavailable for comment.
Last season, the DeSoto girls volleyball team took a knee during the National Anthem before a match. The DeSoto school superintendent wrote a letter publicly supporting the players.
Before one game last season, Dunbar players locked hands with Eastern Hills players as a form of a unified protest.
“I told them to just keep me posted because it affects a lot more than just them. Whatever they come up with, I want them to be sure their parents (know),” Lawson said. “If you just send parents, maybe, straight to administrators it may be a situation where the kids don’t go out and voice their opinion. If I can get the parents involved, and they support it, then we’ll let them go ahead and do it.”
A lot of coaches throughout the country are faced with similar situations, and all of them are juggling the desires of a district, or an administration, with the ambition of teenagers who want to voice their opinion. Not all of these things are necessarily aligned.
This not an easy situation for Lawson, or any coach. There is the need for a history lesson while maintaining decorum, etc., and allowing kids to find their voice.
“You have some (players) that understand what this is about (but) what we are talking about is some history that is not being taught in school, and maybe not at home,” Lawson said.
Lawson is referring to painful points in America’s history with civil rights, and specifically inequality towards African Americans by law enforcement.
“That’s all (the protest) is about,” Dunbar assistant coach and former TCU offensive lineman Reuben Vaughn said. “The guy who started this (former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick), that’s all he was protesting. Not the flag, or America.”
Vaughn said he personally has never experienced the type of inequality Kaepernick, or other NFL protesting players, are trying to shed light on. Lawson, however, has.
Two years ago on a drive on Interstate 35, near Fort Worth, Lawson said he had one of his players in the passenger seat and was followed by a police car for several miles before he was pulled over.
“The (police officer) said to me, ‘I just wanted to make sure there weren’t any kind of drug exchanges going on,’” he said. “He thought I was selling drugs. I’m glad he did it because I could show (the player) how to act in this situation. He was stopping a professional, and he didn’t ask me for my driver’s license, or my insurance. He thought I was trafficking something.”
Coaches like Lawson want to teach their players and want them to have the forum to express their voice, if they choose.
They are just trying to figure out how.