Kansas men’s basketball coach Bill Self participated in a forum discussing the intersection of race and sports hosted by The Kansas City Star Thursday.
Self was one of six panelists in the Facebook livestream, alongside Kansas City Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu, Kansas State women’s basketball junior guard Christianna Carr, Negro Leagues Baseball Museum President Bob Kendrick, Kansas City Royals general manager Dayton Moore, and Missouri men’s basketball coach Cuonzo Martin. The forum was hosted by Kansas City Star sports reporter Blair Kerkhoff.
Self started off by addressing the recent death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man who was killed by former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.
“Obviously, it affected everybody that witnessed what occurred in Minneapolis in a way that brought along anger, sadness and so many different emotions, because we witnessed a murder right there before our eyes,” Self said.
Self then went on to talk about his personal journey with race and said that he isn't as knowledgeable on the subject as he should be.
“Thinking as a basketball coach, being in the most diverse groups, that maybe I had a good handle on things,” Self said. “I realized now I didn’t have nearly as good a handle on it as I thought I did in so many ways.”
Self has been spending his time educating himself further on racial inequality by listening to podcasts and watching documentaries and movies that allow him to see a multitude of perspectives, he said.
“As a coach, and a leader, it’s time for me to allow and encourage my players to have a voice and have me stand with them, as opposed to standing in front of them and having them stand behind me,” Self said.
“I’m looking forward to us putting in some words of action, and I do think we have a platform to really make a difference in our own communities and our own state," he continued.
Self also touched on the inequalities that are in the coaching profession at the college and professional levels, adding that there is a significant need for change. Self said there are aren't enough opportunities for minorities and that is a change that needs to start at the top of league infrastructures.
“We’ve got to do some things in legislation that will help promote certain things like that and at the highest administrative levels, as well,” Self said. “I think that coaches need to have a voice.”
“We certainly have a seer shortage of minorities, primarily Blacks, having the same opportunities that whites do in the sports that provide our livelihood and entertainment," he continued.
Self also said he wants athletes to make their voices heard, and do his part as a coach to empower them to do so.
“We need to encourage all of our players to understand that there are absolutely zero consequences, negative, for you to [take a] stand [about] how you feel," Self said. "It’s OK to feel how you feel and to present that.”