High school football coaches tackle social justice issues

High school football coaches don’t just call plays on Friday nights. Coaches play a number of roles for their players, sometimes psychologist, pastor or parent. Now coaches are leading a conversation of social justice.

“You’re either doing it, it’s been done to you, or you’re ignoring it. I think no matter what role you play in it, it has to be talked about,” said Joshua Moore, head football coach and athletic director at B.E.S.T. Academy in Atlanta. 

Moore said that talks about racism and social justice issues didn’t just start this spring. 

“It’s something that they live daily. With a lot of the coaches on staff, we’ve lived it daily since we were younger. It’s really just being there for the guys and letting them know that you do have a voice and helping them direct it in a way that they can be productive,” said Moore. 

Moore is certainly not the only coach talking with his team about police brutality and racism. Meadowcreek High’s Jason Carrera leads a team that is 95 percent African American.

“Probably each and every one of them has questions about what’s going on and what they should be doing and the actions they should be taking. We’re constantly talking to them at all times about staying safe, how they should act, what their reaction should be,” said Carrera. 

As a 53 year old white man, Carrera says while he does talk to his team, he also leans on his assistant coaches who are minorities for help.

“They understand that I care about them, they understand that I love them, they understand that I have their best interests at heart and we talk about that. I also have a diverse staff so I use other coaches within our staff. I let them talk,” said Carrera.

Carrera also found tools for communication earlier this week when the Minority Coaches Association of Georgia hosted a Social Justice Forum Zoom call with 450 coaches from around the country.

Joshua Moore was one of the coaches who helped host the call and gave some advice. 

“I know one of the things that I spoke about Monday in the session was the difference in being purposeful and trying to be perfect. I think some people are trying to be perfect and make the perfect statement, but I think if you focus more on your purpose then the message will come across. So I told them ‘be purposeful, don’t try to be perfect.’ If you’re serious about this change and if you’re serious about how you feel about this and where you stand on it on this, then you walk in that purpose,” said Moore.

Moore said that he thinks sports can be a place where some change can start. He also said that the Minority Coaches Association of Georgia is working on other initiatives that they will be releasing soon.