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'Demand PROGRESS' | Tennessee Athletics calls on fans to challenge racism

The department called on fans to support black student athletes both in and out of the stadium.

The University of Tennessee's athletics department released a joint statement Sunday calling on fans to challenge racism.

The statement came from Director of Athletics Phillip Fulmer and the department's 15 head coaches. You can read the full statement here.

"Right now, our student-athletes are hurting," the statement read. "They navigate an emotional road of sadness, confusion and rage. Our black student-athletes carry the added burden of fear and hopelessness—an old wound torn open again by the horrifying, auto-repeat playlist of viral violence in our country that seemingly will not cease."

The department called on fans to meet -- and expect -- a standard against racism.
 
"As Tennessee head coaches, we are now calling on anyone who is a fan of the Vols and Lady Vols to meet and expect a standard in our daily walk. Let us all refuse to accept or tolerate the unjust treatment of our black neighbors. Let us challenge those who attempt to justify, dismiss, ignore or explain away mistreatment of blacks or any other person of color. Let us meet this standard head-on, out loud and outside our homes. Demand action that leads to change. Demand PROGRESS. This is a basic, human principle that, among some, seems to have become as endangered as basic human rights for blacks in our communities."

The department used the example of team dynamics in high school and college sports.
 
"On healthy teams, if you wear the same jersey as me, I've got your back—regardless of race or ethnicity, it doesn't matter. Let's go work together and win. Period."
 
The statement ended with a call for all fans to support black student-athletes both in and out of the stadium.
 
"Vol Nation, let's rise to the challenge to meet a new standard. If you're going to support our black student-athletes when they compete, please have the courage to support them and their families in their daily pursuit of peace, happiness and equity."

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