On any normal game day, Texas A&M head coach Buzz William seldom checks his phone. His typically low social media digest is relegated to obscurity in preparation for the upcoming game.
Wednesday, Williams said he couldn’t ignore a string of text messages from his wife that were meant to inform the coach of the news the rest of the world was watching unfold.
In Washington D.C., approximately 479 miles away from the Aggies’ hotel in Columbia, S.C., protesters invaded the U.S. Capitol, holding congressmen at siege for hours. The protest initially was in response to Congress’ certification of the electoral ballots, officially naming President-elect Joe Biden as the 46th President of the United States.
A day prior to the unrest in Washington D.C., prosecutors in Kenosha, Wis. decided to not bring charges against the officer who shot Jacob Blake, leaving the man paralyzed. After the Aug. 23 shooting, the NBA postponed play for three days, with the WNBA and the MLB following suit.
The team, like Williams, was mostly sheltered from the news of the day as they prepared for Wednesday’s Southeastern Conference matchup with the Gamecocks. Prior to the pregame shoot-around, Williams had a brief message with the team - one which he hoped to expound upon after the Aggies returned to College Station.
“We will have a conversation specific to what is going on in our country, but, whatever all those things are, I don’t know all of them,” Williams said he told the team. “I know that, whatever you have seen, arguably, it’s the same things that South Carolina’s team has seen. We know what we can control tonight. Let’s do our best to focus on that.”
The Aggies lost the game 78-54. As is the case with any student-athlete at that level, the team was able to fully block out the issues of the day during the preparation and playing of the game, sophomore forward Emanuel Miller, a native of Canada, said. However, after the game, he stated his concern for how issues were handled in the nation’s capital.
“It’s very sad to see what’s happening,” Miller said. “It’s sad to see what’s being allowed versus what wasn’t.”
“The protesting that was happening, the Black Lives Matter protest versus what happened and what was happening right now,” he expanded. “Just seeing what’s being faced.”
Ultimately, for Miller, the solution is to come together as a team and see how they can affect change in the world.
“We just have to find out what we can do as a team to help one another fight through these hard times that we’re facing as a country and try better,” he said.
Williams said he needed more time to process the events of the previous two days before he can make a proper assessment of how discuss these issues with the team. His only observance Wednesday was a quote from the Bible’s 1 Corinthians 13:13.
“The only thing that I saw that I want to say that I do believe is right is: faith hope and love and love is the greatest of these,” Williams said. “Without making this about me or what I believe, I just need time to pray about it and discern what is right and prayer for our country, prayer for our players and prayer for all fo the emotions and all of the climate that has transpired since late May, amidst a global pandemic."