NORMAN — The University of Oklahoma Athletics Department has announced a program designed to raise awareness on matters of social justice that will launch this fall. The new program is called "Sooners For Humanity."
"We want to be part of the solution," said OU Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics Programs and Director of Athletics Joe Castiglione. "Toward that end, we have worked collectively to develop a plan for ongoing awareness and education."
Under the heading "Sooners For Humanity," the program's purpose is to provide a framework to address issues that negate and suppress the human experience. Parallels have been drawn between Sooners For Humanity's framework and OU Athletics' ongoing commitment to be Masterful, Accountable, Gracious, Inclusive and Competitive (the department's core values) in everything it does.
This framework is built on five pillars of Civic Responsibility, Social Intelligence, Education, Accountability and Advocacy and supports a continued tradition of excellence by addressing issues of humanity with student-athletes, coaches, staff and the wider athletics community. With these important pillars as a foundation, the program will "further cultivate a culture where the entire Sooner Nation feels valued, supported and inspired to pursue championships in sport and in life."
Some of the initiative's programs include professional networking, educational and mandatory training programs, voter registration and election day activities and other efforts designed to take steps toward equality.
The student-athletes have sought to use their platform to raise awareness. Toward that end, Unity games highlighting social justice awareness will be held throughout the year. Student-athletes also designed an optional uniform patch with the phrases, "Sooners For Humanity" and "Black Lives Matter." Student-athletes may also receive a T-shirt with the same design.
The work of Sooners For Humanity and the student-led uniform patch comes amidst growing support for such measures by the Big 12 and NCAA. Following the lead of major sports leagues, the NCAA determined this summer to allow college athletes the opportunity to display social justice messages on their uniforms. As part of its "anti-racism, anti-hate" campaign, the Big 12 Conference is providing videos and public address messages to each of its members. In addition, the Big 12 is providing a unity helmet sticker.