The Southeastern Conference football season begins this Saturday, and Florida and Ole Miss are planning a social justice demonstration for their game. The matchup between the two SEC universities comes after COVID-19 postponements and a summer of social justice protests that swept across the country.
First-year coach at Ole Miss Lane Kiffin confirmed this week that an on-field demonstration is being planned by both teams. Kiffin did not reveal any further details about how the two teams will go about demonstrating. However, he did mention it would be memorable.
“We have an idea of what we’re going to do. I think it’ll be pretty neat when you guys see it,” Kiffin said at Monday’s press conference. “The schedule now, as long as it goes as plans, is to do something with Florida. Both teams are on the same page.”
Kiffin gave no specifics on when the demonstration would happen or if it will be coordinated with the ESPN broadcast. Therefore it remains unclear if the demonstration will be seen live on television.
College Football Joins the Fight for Social Justice
Ole Miss has already been involved with social justice measures in their own state over the summer. The football team – along with other Mississippi state schools – played a role in the removal of the Confederate flag from the Mississippi state flag. Now Mississippi is looking for a new symbolic flag.
In addition, Ole Miss players sat out of a practice in August to protest social injustice in the country.
Soical justice protests have swept across America since the May death of George Floyd. Floyd was a Black man who died in custody of Minneapolis police. A viral video shows former policeman Derek Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes. Floyd can be heard saying, “I can’t breathe” during the video. Sadly, those were Floyd’s last-known words.
Protests ensued around the country against police brutality after Floyd’s death. Other social injustices were highlighted as well. They included news of Breonna Taylor’s death, a Black EMT worker who was shot by police in her own home.
COVID-19 forced universities to cancel all college athletics last spring. College conference basketball tournaments and then the NCAA March Madness tournament were the first to stop play. Additionally, all other spring sports followed and were canceled. That included two athletic staples in the SEC—college baseball and spring football.
This will be the fourth week of college football in America since all of the postponements and cancellations. Yet, it is the first weekend of football for the SEC – widely regarded as the premier college football conference in the country. The season does have some adjustments compared to normal years. The SEC will play a 10-game, conference-only schedule. The Florida and Ole Miss matchup at 11 a.m. CT on Saturday will kickoff the weekend.