Outside of a handful of upsets that muddled the chase for the four playoff spots, one of the larger storylines coming out of Week 7 was one player’s decision prior to his team’s game Saturday.
Ian Troost, a white walk-on kicker at Pitt, decided to kneel during the playing of the National Anthem ahead of the North Carolina State game. Following the loss, head coach Pat Narduzzi and (most) of his teammates expressed their support of the junior’s decision to kneel.
The kicker wasn’t made available to the media afterward to explain his reasoning behind the decision, but, in a phone conversation with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Tuesday, Troost shed light on why he’s following the same path first plowed by Colin Kaepernick last year. From the Post-Gazette:
It’s not just like ‘Oh, all of a sudden this is happening’ or all of a sudden this is a result of one recent thing; it’s a result of the culmination of things over the past hundreds of years and legislation that has been passed. My original reasons were Colin’s original reasons – to raise awareness of systematic oppression and racial injustice in the United States that we often see through police brutality or the excessive use of force.
Over the past four years of my college career, I have constantly been having these conversations and learning,” he said. “I’ve never been in that situation. I’ve never been stereotyped for the color of my skin. I’ve never been oppressed. I’ve never had to worry about walking down the street at 2 a.m. with a hood on or when I get pulled over by a police officer keeping my hands in sight at all times. I’ve never had to worry about that and I never will have to.
Trost made certain to state that his protest is not meant as a sign of disrespect for the military — a grandfather served in the Air Force while a close friend is at West Point, he noted — and it’s not an indictment of the vast majority of those in law enforcement.
“I do not in any way have anything against law enforcement,” Troost said. “They keep everyone in this country, myself included, safe 99.9 percent of the time. They risk their lives for us and I truly do appreciate that.
“But there are some that need to be brought to justice for ways they’ve acted on the job, while they have the badge on. That’s the main issue.”
Not all of Troost’s teammates were 100-percent behind the kicker, most notablyAvonte Maddox.
“Is really taking that knee going to prove anything?” senior cornerback said last Saturday. “That’s a statement for 30 seconds. You want to take action.
“If you really want to get out and do something, we want to go out in the real world and do things to make actual change, not 30 seconds of fame making a statement out there. Is that really going to help us?”
The newspaper writes that “Troost didn’t see Maddox’s words as a critique, viewing them instead as a teammate holding him accountable.”
Troost says he plans to continue kneeling during games he dresses for this season. He’s also working with Pitt officials to create what’s described as a diversity inclusion workshop for Pitt athletes