Boston College football cancels practice Thursday to discuss racial injustice

"I do believe we had some really great conversations today."

Jeff Hafley is in his first year coaching the Eagles.
Jeff Hafley is in his first year coaching the Eagles. –John Tlumacki/Globe Staff

Boston College football elected as a program to cancel practice Thursday in response to the continuing racial injustices in the United States.

Instead of practicing, the team met and spoke about educating one another, maintaining dialogue to help unify the community, and sparking change.

Head coach Jeff Hafley said he “felt very strongly” it was best for the team to skip practice. In his Zoom call, he requested that members of the media ask only about racial injustice and not about football.

“I do believe we had some really great conversations today,” Hafley said. “Things do need to change. There’s too much hate, and there needs to be more love. It’s sad. I’m very, very proud of our football team and our coaching staff today.”

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Hafley said the idea to cancel practice sprouted Wednesday night, when a coach on the staff sent him a video that upset both that coach and Hafley greatly.

The next morning, Hafley said he could sense his players and coaches were hurting, just as he was, so he called the leadership council together and ultimately decided that meeting together would be more beneficial than practicing.

A common theme through the discussion, which he said ran longer than a typical practice, was: “What can we all do to help?”

“I think we helped today, educating some of our players who really didn’t know what it was like,” Hafley said. “Then they get to hear a story from one of our players and what they’ve gone through in their life, and what some of their family members have gone through in their life, how they feel, how scared they are at times and how emotional they are right now. It’s about continuing the conversation.”

Hafley said many players and coaches got up and spoke, which he called “very touching” and “very emotional.” They then broke into smaller groups and continued to share, listen, and react.

The team talked about creating more forums and bringing in other people from outside the program to continue the conversation.

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Hafley noted that the Eagles have already reached out to organizations, and the players have raised money to support local causes. He said they picked out an inner-city school that needs help, and the plan is to stay involved with that school going forward.

He’s pleased that he has a team where everyone seems to feel very comfortable discussing such serious issues, and he wants everyone to understand that they can make a difference together.

Hafley called the racial injustice in the country “ridiculous, sad and disheartening,” and he’s hopeful that sports teams can be a major part of the solution.

“That’s what more of our world should be,” Hafley said. “Guys getting together, being able to get along, working together, crying together, laughing together, loving together. That’s what sports does, and that’s what sports has done for my life.”

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