Clemson coach Dabo Swinney does not support messages of social justice or other issues on player uniforms.
Swinney said Tuesday his stance is solely because he’s a college football traditionalist who values the historic look of jerseys, not because he disagrees with efforts to combat social injustice.
“It’s not anything to do with the messages or whatever,” he said. “It’s just, I’ve always not messed with uniforms. It’s always been my deal. But that’s all changed this year.”
The NBA and other other sporting organizations around the world have added allowed players to add messages to jerseys.
Swinney and the Tigers have spoke out against social injustice, marching in June following the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer.
The Tigers have worn helmet stickers this season with various messages, including “Black Lives Matter,” “Love,” “Put a Stop to Racism,” and “Equality.” Clemson’s home field included the words “Equality” and “Unity” at its opener against The Citadel two weeks ago and players, coaches and staff locked arms in a line on the sideline after the first quarter in support of social justice.
Some on social media came out against Clemson’s efforts, criticizing the team’s actions. Swinney defended the team earlier this month, saying not everyone will agree. The messages on players’ helmets and on the field with continue.
“Hopefully, people can respect our young men and what they believe in and what their different causes are,” he said after the stickers debuted against Wake Forest on Sept. 12.
Swinney’s policy has long been keeping traditional uniform styles since getting the job in the middle of the 2008 season.
“That’s just a product of 13 years at Alabama” as a player and assistant coach, he said.
Swinney recalled when the Crimson Tide added a Nike logo to their uniforms, saying “and you would’ve thought the world was coming to an end.”
The coach added that he is not a fan of political groups, but common sense messages. When asked if he considered Black Lives Matter a political organization, he referred back to previous comments he’d made.
“Absolutely, Black lives matter,” he said. “That’s common sense.”