As I sat under the net, photographing the first annual Coaches vs. Racism game in Washington D.C., I could tell that the atmosphere of this game was different from others. The grit, spirit and passion were all there, but in between the competitive moments, a genuine camaraderie between Michigan and Prairie View A&M was born. They weren’t just competing against each other for a win. The game meant more than that.
Both teams knew that a portion of proceeds from this game would be used to support marginalized student athletes who don’t have adequate financial support for their education. Furthermore, the fact that an HBCU team was pitted against a Big Ten team in the form of a high-profile competition helped to elevate not only Prairie View A&M, but all HBCU teams. The gravity of the game’s message bonded both teams. They battled it out on court and in doing so, gave national coverage to an HBCU team along with uplifting marginalized student athletes.
Despite being in a different conference, Michigan didn’t give in. These photos convey that. A real commitment to the game is shown through the emotion on their faces. They fought it out, showing their fans and their opponents that they didn’t have any intention of discounting the team from Prairie View, Texas.
Both teams can relate to the fact that they traveled far for a good cause.
At the end of the game, high fives and smiles were shared between the players. There wasn’t a hint of animosity in the air. Everyone seemed to be happy with a game well played. After the game, center Hunter Dickinson talked to spectators in the bleachers. From the press box, I could hear someone yell out, “Dickinson, you’re the man.” Juwan stayed and talked to fans for a while too, even taking a second to pose for a photo with a woman’s two baby boys.
Photographing this inaugural game was well worth the drive to D.C.
Assistant Photo Editor Tess Crowley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.