Georgetown became the first college basketball team to wear “I Can’t Breathe” T-shirts during their warm-ups, only days after some of the NBA’s own stars wore similar outfits to show solidarity with Eric Garner, the Staten Island, N.Y., dad who was killed by a police officer, Yahoo Sports reports.
“We didn’t wear the shirt to say the cops were wrong, or the system was wrong,” Hoyas senior Josh Smith said, according to ESPN. “We wore the shirts just to show our condolences to the family. No matter how you look at it, we don’t know who’s right or wrong, but they still lost somebody.”
“There were a variety of reasons why we wanted to wear the shirts,” player D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera told ESPN. “There were quite a few families that lost their loved ones this year: Mike Brown, Trayvon Martin … we wanted to represent those families that all lost. It wasn’t just for this one scenario for a lot of people who know just this one case; I just think we wanted to represent the families and send our condolences that way.”
Yahoo Sports notes that the team players will not likely be punished for the rather politicized move, since the NCAA rulebook says, “Warm-ups are any pieces of clothing worn by team members that must be removed before they become players. Warm-ups shall not be considered part of the uniform.”
The NBA so far hasn’t fined any players for their warm-up T-shirts, either, Yahoo Sports notes.
Another professional league, the NFL, has also declined to punish players for their political statements after an incident in which five players with the St. Louis Rams entered the field with their hands up in solidarity with slain unarmed teenager Michael Brown.