Might we actually see Duke play a non-conference road game outside of the ACC-Big Ten Challenge this season?
Nothing official has been announced, but there’s a proposal floating around that would have all 15 ACC men’s basketball teams playing games against Historically Black College and University opponents on Jan. 18, 2021 — Martin Luther King Jr. Day — as a show of support for the African-American community and to call attention to the problem of racial inequality that still exists in our country.
It’s a subject NC State coach Kevin Keatts said will be discussed in a meeting among his colleagues on Wednesday,
Speaking as a guest on The Drive with Josh Graham, a radio talk show on Sports Hub Triad, Keatts said he’s all in on the idea.
“I’m in support of anything that helps bring awareness to what’s going on in our country right now,” Keatts said. “Is that the solution? Probably not by itself. But if that helps us get a step further to handling some of the situations we’ve got going on, then as a coach I’m all for those type of things.”
While playing a game at NC Central, NC A&T or any of the region’s other HBCU schools wouldn’t do anything to calm the racial tensions currently boiling over because of the deaths of George Floyd and others, Keatts said it would serve a worthwhile purpose.
Specifically, the call attention to both the problem of racial inequality and to remind people of the meaning behind the MLK Day observance.
“Sometimes we take things for granted,” Keatts said. We don’t undertstand the significance of things. When you think of Martin Luther King and everything he fought for, the things that are going on today in 2020 are not something he’d be proud of.”
Although specifics of the proposal have come out, it would figure that to maximize attention to the cause, the games would be played on HBCU home courts and that a large percentage of the television money they generate would go to the HBCU schools.
Since Jan. 18, 2021 is a Monday, the games could be televised as part of ESPN’s Big Monday series.
Keatts said that it’s important for coaches, especially African-American coaches such as himself, to do more than just a issue a generic statement decrying the police brutality and violence in the streets.
“I think we have to step out and take a stand against some of this stuff,” he said. “I don’t think it’s the right time for us as head coaches to be silent. I’m not saying that every head coach in the ACC has to stand out and lead things, but I think it’s important because we have a platform and a voice to express how displeased we are with some of the inequalities.
“I think it’s important to share our feelings and hopefully it helps change some of the visioin and helps us get better as a society.”
ACC schools playing HBCUs on MLK Day is symbolic. But helping get funds to those schools, and to the people that are actively fighting to make the changes so many want to see will be a meaningful action.