The University of Pennsylvania men’s soccer team apparently doesn’t need to practice all that much as the team has been busy with anti-racism activities.
According to The Daily Pennsylvanian, members of the Penn squad have been “cognizant of [the] challenges” presented by our post-George Floyd death society and “felt that [they] needed to have conversations surrounding current events in the U.S. and diversity in general.”
The team made use of “A Long Talk About The Uncomfortable Truth” which bills itself as an “anti-racism activation experience.”
According to “A Long Talk’s” website, the program is a three-day process where participants “make connections between […] shared American history and our current reality.” This is followed by “challeng[ing] racist comments and beliefs,” and then overcoming “challenges which may hinder [them] from living as an active anti-racist.”
The D.P. notes these segments consist of 90-minute virtual conferences which vary from large discussions to smaller “break-out” groups.
Penn sophomore soccer player Mattias Hanchard, part of the soccer team’s diversity and inclusion committee, said “social justice and Black Lives Matter and [similar] organizations […] should be the foundation of any team that strives to have diversity.”
But Hanchard discovered that his personal zeal for diversity and anti-racism may not totally be shared by his peers:
[A]n important question is how this workshop would affect team spirit. As Hanchard spoke, he noted that there were some issues with what ended up transpiring.
“[We] had to encourage our teammates to hop on board, but I think for the most part, everybody was relatively open to having this conversation,” he said. “Unfortunately, we didn’t get the turnout we really wanted but I think it was a good first step in the right direction in terms of opening the floor and opening the conversation.”
Perhaps, just perhaps, the (poor) turnout was due to diversity/anti-racism fatigue. Maybe players believe soccer should be reserved for things like kicking and heading a ball rather than wrapping their collective guilt around concepts like colonialism and patriarchy.