Protests for racial equality were present at UVM Nov. 4, but this time at Patrick Gymnasium.
Seven players on the St. Michael’s College men’s basketball team kneeled during the National Anthem in support of Black Lives Matter. This is one year after they were booed for kneeling during the National Anthem Nov. 5, 2017.
In 2017, the kneeling was met with hostility from Vermont fans, according to a Nov. 14 2017 Cynic article.
This year, the St. Michael’s players received considerably less criticism from the sellout crowd. There was only one loud scream of “Where’s the respect?” from a UVM spectator.
“I barely noticed the kneeling and didn’t hear anything from any fans other than that one angry guy,” UVM junior Abigail Strauss said.
The St. Michael’s team asked to read a statement before the game began on Sunday reflections on the incident from last year but was denied by UVM athletics, according to a Nov. 3 Instagram post by Ferene Paris Meyer, who is married to St. Michael’s head coach Josh Meyer.
“It’s not only important to demonstrate, but to also explain the why behind it,” Paris-Meyer stated. “I feel leadership was scared about how folks would react to the statement, but taking a side of neutrality is still taking a side.”
The UVM team wore practice shirts with the words “Love Respect Togetherness” during the warmups before the game.
First-year Molly Mathes was impressed with the St. Michael’s protest, but believes UVM should not be obligated to allow the statement to be read before the game.
“Protesting shows they care about something more than just sports which is good, but it’s not St. Mike’s home turf to speak on,” Mathes said. “If UVM wanted to speak, it would be their place since it’s their gym.”
St. Michael’s plays most games directly after their women’s team games. Because they are in the Northeast 10 league, the anthem is only played before the first game, Paris-Meyer stated.
This means the UVM game is one of their only opportunities to kneel.
UVM head coach John Becker said that he was supportive of the team’s protesting efforts.
“We support their peaceful demonstration,” Becker said. “We had a more respectful crowd this year so I would say it was well done by everyone involved.”
Becker said that he did not know about UVM athletics’ denial of St. Michael’s request to address the crowd.
Forward Anthony Lamb, a junior, said that the crowd was more respectful with the choice to protest this year versus last year.
“The fans were way better about the kneeling this year and respecting the choice to protest,” Lamb said. “It’s a good sign for our community and for society moving forward as a whole and that more progress will improve things for all going into the future.”
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