Jeff Long student athlete discussion on racial injustice

Kansas Athletics Director Jeff Long discusses recent social justice movements with Kansas volleyball junior outside hitter Paige Shaw, Kansas football senior wide receiver Kameron McQueen and Kansas soccer junior midfielder Sam Barnett. 

Three Kansas student-athletes recently sat down for a discussion with Athletics Director Jeff Long to share their thoughts, opinions and experiences with social injustice. The panel included Kansas volleyball junior outside hitter Paige Shaw, Kansas football senior wide receiver Kameron McQueen and Kansas soccer junior midfielder Sam Barnett. 

Shaw and McQueen both weighed in on how the NCAA and Big 12 are allowing athletes to wear uniform patches to stand against social injustice

“Putting a patch on our jerseys is very important to spread awareness,” Shaw said. “Not everyone is in tune to what’s going on in the world.” 

Barnett said the soccer team will be wearing a patch on their jerseys this season in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

“Our team comes from so many different backgrounds, cities, states, countries," Barnett said. "So us as young women, we wanted unity there to show we are unified as a team no matter where we come from in supporting the [fight against] racial injustice and [support of] Black Lives Matter as a whole.” 

This discussion followed the on-campus march organized by the Kansas women’s basketball team in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and social justice on Aug. 28. Student-athletes were encouraged to participate in the march across Jayhawk Boulevard. 

Shaw said if the volleyball team can do their part and bring awareness of current issues to their fans, it would go a long way. 

In the discussion, Long said the Big 12 is allowing Kansas athletes to wear warm-up t-shirts with a message relating to the fight against social injustice. The four options are: "Raise Your Voice," "Unity," "It Takes All of Us" and "Black Lives Matter." 

Shaw said the volleyball team will be wearing shirts that read, "Black Lives Matter" during warm ups this season.

“I think this [decision to wear the shirts] was important for us because we all match," Shaw said, "and it was important to show that we are going to support each other and that we’re going to be unified through this."

With these discussions taking place and allowing athletes to voice their support of social justice movements, McQueen said it was encouraging that the Big 12 "wasn’t turning a blind eye to what was going on in the real world."

“I feel like we can get caught up in the sports we’re playing and forget about [the fact that] athletes playing on the field are really human," McQueen said. "So, it was really encouraging to see they’re giving us a voice and a platform to encourage change in the world.”