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Kentucky Wildcats open up about walking out of practice

“This isn’t just an issue for our black teammates. It’s an issue that involves all of our players and should involve all of our fans and community.”

UK Athletics

We’re living in an unprecedented time in history right now, especially within the world of sports.

Yesterday, we saw the Milwaukee Bucks of the NBA lead the charge in refusing to play their games as a protest to police brutality and social injustice. This was sparked by the Jacob Blake incident a few days ago in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

After the Bucks decided to boycott yesterday’s game, we’ve seen a domino effect make its way through the MLB, WNBA, NFL and now College Football.

The entire Kentucky Football team decided to walk out of practice today in support of the national protests and plans to have an open dialogue with the Lexington police and how to improve the community.

Josh Paschal and Luke Fortner held a press conference on behalf of the Kentucky Football team. Here are a couple of snippets from each, along with the full video below.

“In light of recent events involving police brutality, the team stands together in unity against knowing that there is a problem in this country. Playing for Stoops means we have a players coach. We have a coach that empathizes and hurts with us while having our best interest in our hearts,” Paschal said. “Our team has been a prime example of how this community should be. We may have different beliefs or values, but we work together for one goal.”

“This isn't just an issue for our black teammates. It’s an issue that involves all of our players and should involve all of our fans and community,” Fortner said. “We realize that as athletes we have a platform and we have decided as a team to use our platform for positive change.”

Another big statement made by Josh Paschal in this video is when he opened up to the fact that he is hurt.

It hurts seeing fans who put us down, who see us as just athletes. We are more than athletes,” Paschal said. “When we leave this facility we want our fans to know that we can have opinions that may not be the same as theirs. We want them to see us as humans, because we are humans. We are all humans. I respect their opinions and they should respect ours as well. Even with this whole issue right now, I feel like this is a human-rights issue. This is not a political issue or anything like that and I believe that we should all be united in this fight against police brutality. We should all be for it, not half-half or against us.”

Fortner also added that everyone is entitled to their opinion, and that these football Cats believe that that they are standing for what’s right.

“I came from a predominantly white community,” Fortner said. “I didn’t go to school with a bunch of black people, right? And now that I am surrounded by minorities and people from different cultures every single day, I feel that I’ve learned a lot. I’ve learned so much. And I feel that I’m qualified to speak on this issue. I have the experiences to come out and say what I believe. You’re never going to make everyone happy and you’re never going to please everyone, but everyone, athlete or not, should be entitled to their opinion, and we are, and we feel like we’re doing the right thing.”

Below are some other powerful messages that we’ve seen on social media thus far.

Seeing players stand together in solidarity like this is special.

This one is from yesterday where Coach Marrow commends Coach Stoops’ support.

It’s encouraging to see these young athletes take a stand for what is morally right. I commend them for their decision today and I’m looking forward to how this not only affects communities in Lexington, but communities across the country.