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Penn State Football ‘Discussing Plan’ For Social Justice Messages On Uniforms

In July, the NCAA announced student-athletes can wear patches and words on the backs of their uniforms to support social justice causes.

While he didn’t announce a formal plan, Penn State football head coach James Franklin explained Wednesday his team will be involved in that movement in one way or another. He also discussed his players and staff’s role as social activists throughout his media day press conference.

“I think for there to be any growth, there is an aspect of it that’s about education, and there’s an aspect of it that is about making people uncomfortable,” Franklin said. “When it comes to these social issues, there’s always that fine line of, ‘How do we represent ourselves and make a statement, but how do we always do it in a way that aligns with our university and community?’

“It’s not always easy to make those different groups all comfortable with how you’re expressing it…We do have a plan in discussion right now, specifically what that’s going to be, between myself, the leadership council, and the administration,” Franklin said.

Franklin added he wants his team to make a statement but align with “actionable items” that can truly help make a difference.

One topic that Franklin already reminds his players of is to be registered to vote and be informed. Penn State Athletics participated in a voter registration initiative last week that included a video featuring Franklin, his staff, and several players imploring students to get registered.

Franklin noticed several comments complaining that he was “telling” Penn Staters how to vote. The head coach noted that he was trying to do the exact opposite, and wanted to encourage young people to get involved.

“Whenever we post something on social media about voting, there’s a certain group that just attacks me or our account,” Franklin said. “Just to be clear, we’re not telling anybody who or what to vote for. We’re trying to get our young people active in the process We want them to do their own research, have their own opinions, and vote how they see fit.”

The head coach continued, saying that it’s important to be a part of the process “no matter what side of the aisle you sit on.”

Penn State football hasn’t announced what message or word might be featured on its jerseys this fall. However, Franklin discussed the importance of young people voting, activism, and his team’s diversity at length during Wednesday’s press conference.

The Nittany Lions will open their delayed season against Indiana on Saturday, October 24.

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About the Author

Will Pegler

Will is a junior majoring in digital and print journalism and is Onward State's sports editor. He is from Darien, Connecticut and is a lifelong Penn State football fan. He loves a good 80's comedy movie, Peaky Blinders, The Office, and the New York Yankees and Giants. You can catch some of his ridiculous sports takes on his Twitter @gritdude and yell at him on his email willpegler[email protected]

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