It’s been an emotional year as the effects of COVID and the societal upheaval caused by police attacks on George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Jacob Floyd have drastically altered our world perception. The harrowing events of 2020 have been a lot to digest for coaches and athletes, who have used their platform to raise awareness of the social injustices and racial division plaguing our country. Unprecedented times call for unprecedented responses as members of the media including longtime college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit have been called on to address issues well outside their area of expertise.
College GameDay returned Saturday with Herbstreit dissecting the tragic events that have shaped our national dialogue over the past several months along with his ESPN colleagues Lee Corso, Rece Davis, Desmond Howard, David Pollock and Maria Taylor. A visibly shaken Herbstreit shared a simple but powerful sentiment, imploring us all to “do better.”
“Wearing a hoodie, putting your hands at ten and two. ‘Oh God, I better look out because I’m wearing Nike gear.’ What are we talking about?” asked an incredulous Herbstreit, amazed at our country’s collective lack of empathy. “You can’t relate to that if you’re white, but you can listen and try to help because this is not okay. It’s just not.”
Symbolic of America’s current, fractured state, only three of FBS’ Power Five conferences—the ACC, Big 12 and SEC—elected to play amid COVID, setting the stage for what could be the most disjointed college football season we’ve ever seen. Players opting out to prepare for the upcoming NFL Draft have only added to the chaos.
“We have to lock arm in arm and be together,” said Herbstreit, making a much-needed plea for unity. “We just have to do better.”
Taylor, who went viral with her criticism of Drew Brees earlier this summer following his remarks about players protesting during the national anthem, was clearly affected by Herbsteit’s poignant words, wiping away tears during his minute-long monologue.
“Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are,” said Herbstreit, reciting a Benjamin Franklin quote shared by Stanford coach David Shaw. “The black community is hurting. How do you listen to these stories and not feel pain and not want to help?”