t-shirts, protests & maybe a little bit more

It’s just a t-shirt. Amazing how a set of shirts can say so much…


This year prior to the start of the season, the Director of Basketball Administration & Operations at Purdue University sat down with the men’s basketball team, as he often does, discussing things other than basketball. They talked about many things — from the mass shooting in Las Vegas to the protests by some NFL players during the National Anthem.

While it’s no secret the Intramuralist loves her alma mater, this is just one more reason why. I love that with a college backdrop, they recognize that far more than an academic education is both valuable and vital.

And so going into the season, Purdue’s seniors led the way, asking each of the 14 members of the men’s team to submit a word or two that was meaningful to them — “words you believe in,” said starting guard Carsen Edwards. And so the above list was born.

Now, with the season in full swing, while warming up on the court prior to game start, each of the 14 wears a t-shirt donning a single one of the words.

For Carsen Edwards, it’s “love.”
For nationally-watched guard Vince Edwards, it’s “humility.” He spoke of all his parents taught him. “Be humble. Always be respectful.” Hence, he picked humility.

Vince Edwards goes on to explain: “The shirts pretty much stand for everything we need in this world right now. We just wanted to give the message. All the words make you think when you see 14 different players run out with 14 different words on their chest.”

So true. So diverse.

The challenge with so many people earnestly desiring to make a statement today is that they do so with protest. And friends, there is nothing wrong with a peaceful, respectful protest. Yet way too many protests seem to leave something vital out.

For example, think of the person screaming “Justice! I demand justice!” But in their calls for justice, they omit love and respect. It thus sounds as if they don’t truly care about all people.

Think of the person who screams “tolerance!” But in their demand for tolerance, there exists an absence of compassion for those who think differently. The extent of effectiveness of their demand will then be minimized, as it’s obvious only some things will be tolerated.

And think, too, of the one who shouts “equality!” But in their sincere efforts to pursue such, they only do so by demeaning and insulting someone else, treating them as, well, someone less than equal.

Too much is omitted in too many protests.

We cannot forget the contagiousness of humility.
We cannot ignore the power of empathy.
And we cannot omit the dire need for forgiveness.

True, they are just 14 words on the chests of 14 players — from all different backgrounds and walks of life — no doubt a diverse crew.

Amazing how a set of shirts can say so much.