On Thursday afternoon, the Michigan athletic department announced via a press release that all of its varsity teams will wear social justice decals on their uniforms and pregame warm-ups during the 2020-21 academic year.
This announcement comes following the success of a student-athlete-led initiative to create two designs that reflect campus unity and diversity, one of which will be seen by those watching Michigan football take on Minnesota the night of Oct. 24.
The Michigan football team will be wearing a helmet decal depicting six raised fists, each of a different skin tone, along with the word “EQUALITY” beneath them.
Each team will independently vote on whether to wear a similar “EQUALITY” logo to that which will be debuted this Saturday or a “BLM” logo on its uniforms.
Additionally, Michigan student-athletes voted to approve seven other slogans and themes to be worn on warm up apparel: “Stand Together,” “WAR (Wolverines Against Racism),” “Say Their Names,” “No Justice, No Peace,” “Justice,” “Hear Us” and “Unity.”
“The thing I love the most about this initiative is that they sent this out to everyone — not just student-athletes of color, not only specific people — so that everyone was able to be a part of the process,” men’s track and field graduate student Roland Amarteifio said in a press release. “Everyone got an email that encouraged them to vote and suggest their own ideas.”
The addition of social justice messaging to Michigan uniforms comes in light of the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel approving rules that allow programs to include patches or decals in their uniforms in late July.
Since then, the student-led initiative, which was coordinated by Briana Nelson, a graduate student on the women’s track and field team, has worked diligently to prepare designs for the fall.
“I’m excited because this is an opportunity for us to step outside of sport and advocate while also competing,” Nelson said in a press release. “It’s something that will draw attention during big games and on television. Essentially, it’s spreading the message, even to people who are just watching us for sport, that this is bigger than sports.”