Teenage Football Star Gives Coach Advice About Speaking on Racism

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[Tyler Booker\Bobby Acosta]
Sports Illustrated: "Booker told Acosta exactly where to start: Talk about it. Be honest about what’s happening. Don’t ignore this, even if it’s uncomfortable for some. Frank discussions about racism in America, Booker said, could impact college football."
Photo: Twitter

IMG Academy Football coach Bobby Acosta sought advice from 16-year-old football star Tyler Booker above.

When IMG Academy football coach Bobby Acosta wanted advice for how to talk with his players about systemic racism and the Black Lives Matter movement after the killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor, the first call he made was to a 16-year-old.

Tyler Booker is the nation’s top offensive lineman in his class—the “heartbeat” of the IMG team, says Acosta—and when the coach called, Booker told Acosta exactly where to start: Talk about it. Be honest about what’s happening. Don’t ignore this, even if it’s uncomfortable for some.

Frank discussions about racism in America, Booker said, could impact college football as a whole. The perspectives and knowledge gained by IMG players (roughly 85% of whom are Black, Acosta says), at a school that has produced more five-star recruits in the last five years than all but four individual states, would eventually permeate NCAA rosters from coast to coast.

“I want to have these discussions to show people and educate them on the oppression of people of color in this country … and then learn how we can collectively make a change so my kids don’t have to have that talk with their own football team,” says Booker. “I don’t want it to go away for now and have everyone forget about it; I want it to go away forever, so everyone can be seen as equals.”

For the rest of this Sports Illustrated story log on to: https://www.si.com/college/2020/07/20/young-black-football-recruits-are-...

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