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Dabo Swinney on social justice messages: I support 'common-sense causes,' not 'political organizations'

Nick Bromberg
·3-min read

Dabo Swinney really wants it known that his support for racial equality is apolitical.

The Clemson coach was asked again about his stance on social and racial justice issues at his Tuesday news conference following his Monday night radio show. During that show, a caller requested that the support that Swinney’s team had for the Black Lives Matter movement be toned down because of the caller’s dislike for the organization that shares the same name as the movement.

"For our football team, this is America and everybody has the right to free speech," Swinney said in response via ESPN. "I don't judge somebody because they don't think the way I think. I think that is one of the issues that we have. We don't have any tolerance or respect for differences of opinion, different views anymore. There is no one around here that supports a senseless death of any kind; racism, anything that is against the police or police brutality. Nobody supports those things.

Tuesday, Swinney drew the line between supporting “common sense causes” and with support of “political organizations” when the call and his subsequent comments was brought up. Clemson players have participated in protests for social justice over the summer.

“I’m on board with a lot of the messages,” Swinney said. “I’m not on board with political organizations. That’s a different question. I’m apolitical. To me, that’s divisive. I’ve voted Democrat, I’ve voted Republican, I’ve voted independent. I’ve written in people just because I didn’t like anybody that was running and written in somebody that I liked. I’ve been voting since I was 18. So I’m very apolitical when it comes to organizations, so I don’t really support any organizations. I support common-sense causes.”

Swinney a traditionalist regarding uniforms

Swinney also doesn’t like the idea of messages being displayed on player uniforms. He said Tuesday that it was because he was a uniform traditionalist and minimalist. The NCAA has allowed players and teams to promote social justice messages.

“It’s not that I’m not for the messages, I just think that I’m a very traditional guy,” Swinney said. “I came from Alabama — really the same reason we don’t change our uniforms. It’s not really for the messages it’s just that I’ve always not messed with uniforms. That’s not my deal. But that was all changed this year so guys have the opportunity to express themselves in a way and things that they believe in and causes and so forth.”

Swinney first made his explicit support for the Black Lives Matter movement clear in June in the wake of George Floyd’s death. It came after a report that a Clemson assistant coach had said the N-word in front of Black players and a vacation photograph of him wearing a shirt that said “football matters.”

The march by Clemson players — star QB Trevor Lawrence helped organize it — came days after Swinney said that “I wholeheartedly support Black Lives Matter.” The coach was there. Four years earlier, Swinney had said that he preferred if his players would protest on their own time when expressing his disagreement with Colin Kaepernick’s on-field protests.

“I just don’t support political organizations, it’s as simple as that, in any facet or form,” Swinney said Tuesday. “Absolutely, Black lives matter. That’s common sense.”

FILE - In this June 13, 2020, file photo, Clemson NCAA college football head coach Dabo Swinney speaks during a protest over the death of George Floyd in Clemson, S.C. Swinney does not support messages of social justice or other issues on player uniforms. Swinney said Tuesday, Sept. 29, 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. (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)
Dabo Swinney speaks at a Black Lives Matter march in June. (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)

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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.

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