In what has been an eventful offseason, not just at Canisius but all of college basketball and around the world, social justice has been one of the main topics of conversation.
For men’s basketball team head coach Reggie Witherspoon, it has been at the front of their minds as well, especially after the death of George Floyd in Minnesota last May.
Witherspoon said that during his coaching career, his teams have had discussions about social justice for years, “just as a part of life, as a part of learning each other’s cultures, as a part of growing up,” Witherspoon said during Monday’s MAAC media Zoom call. “I have done maybe a little bit more listening this time through.”
He went on, “We’ve had police brutality and murders at the hands of the police, but a lot of times people have been busy at living, such that they may not have stopped to watch, even if it was on video. Because of COVID, there was nothing else going on, so you couldn’t say you didn’t see it, couldn’t say you didn’t hear about it and young people who have a lot of things going on virtually had nothing going on. The discussions got a little bit more lively and lengthy and maybe even more intense.”
When it came to a voter registration push seen across the country over the summer and early fall, Canisius again was one that followed suit. The team, like all Canisius sports teams this year, reached 100% voter registration among eligible players.
He said that in the past he had teams that were not much concerned with the idea of voting, but this time around it was different.
“In some cases, they weren’t really that into it, so you were talking at them. In this case we really didn’t have to get on guys too hard to register to vote and sometimes they started the discussion about how important it is to vote. I was really encouraged by it becoming almost fashionable for young people to vote,” Witherspoon said.
The MAAC has contributed to the cause for this season as they have provided schools with Black Lives Matter floor decals, as well as patches on uniforms.
Witherspoon hopes that all of the discussions that have taken place over the past handful of months will be beneficial and will create a better future.
“We’ve had more opinions and more people willing to talk about it, especially amongst young people. I think it’s been very interesting and hopefully it’s something that will help this world become a better place to live,” he stated.