The actions taken by the Albion College men’s basketball team after their coach, Jody May, used a racial slur repeatedly in a practice over break, reflect a certain bravery and courage that is important in today’s era of vitriol, ignorance and hate, especially on college campuses. But the administrative leadership on this college campus has responded in a way that has understandably been regarded as both disappointing and belittling.
Over winter break, The Pleiad received an email from a player on the basketball team sharing his story and version of events. Following this, he asked us simply: “Will you write something about this?”
This player became the de facto leader of the team’s concerted effort to hold their ground against apathy and inaction from the college. This player and his teammates have become people whom a lot of us consider to be among the bravest students on this campus.
These players have led an incredibly well-organized and respectful response to the insensitive behavior on this campus. They have all stood their ground against an institution that seemingly refused to listen to them.
That player, the de-facto leader, told The Pleiad that even though some of his teammates feel differently about the situation, they all respect each other and have maintained that respect throughout this whole process.
The college, which operates according to policies and laws that govern its position as the employer of coach May, has taken a series of steps that go against the desires of the team. Their actions have been widely regarded as disappointing. However, the college is often perceived as one monolithic, univocal, arbiter of unfairness. That is untrue; the administration is comprised of humans with complex emotions like the rest of us.
This is not an anti-administrative stance. We understand the complexity that job takes, and we understand why the college behaved the way it did.
While the basketball team fought to have their voice heard, they said that “Dean Wright and President Calvaruso repeatedly ignored our wishes and the ways that we wanted to go about this and pushed their own agendas on to us.”
In response to this, they held their ground. They amplified each other’s voices, and, through it all, they remained composed.
This composure and respect for each other’s decisions are what we want to celebrate. While presenting their cause, the team has been sincere, tactful, at times stoic and nothing short of inspiring.
On Thursday, the college held a conversation between members of the cabinet, players on the team, their families and coach May. Following this, the team took May back as their coach, and all players returned to play.
Standing solid in the face of ignorance and institutional disregard with such patience and maturity is worth lauding. Seeing them reach a mutual decision by consistently pushing for a better, more inclusive and respectful dialogue should be a lesson for us all.
Though they weren’t running a perfect three-man weave, or sinking last-second shots to take the lead, the basketball players on this campus were doing something more important: they were standing together and standing up for what is right.
And that – more so than a flashy dunk, electrifying crossover, or a commanding win over a conference foe – is worth your applause. They certainly have ours.