Dear Coach Swinney,
Congratulations to you and the Clemson Tiger Football team on winning their second national championship under your leadership, and third championship overall. Your 15-0 season is truly an accomplishment to be proud of. Each year you continue to impress me by demonstrating how having a value based approach to coaching creates a winning atmosphere, inspires commitment, focus, and dedication, and builds character. You’ve achieved success on and off the field while being an outstanding living example and role model of what great Christian leadership is all about. My hat goes off to you, your incredible coaching staff, and players for what you have accomplished thus far.
You may be wondering why I am writing you in such a public forum, especially since we know each other personally. I know that you are very busy and after having won another championship my getting in to see you will probably be impossible. Therefore, it is my hope you will read this letter in the news and give it your fullest consideration. You may recall that I coached your boys when they were much younger and played AAU/YBOA basketball and I am hoping to appeal to you as a fellow coach, parent, citizen of Clemson, and Christian. My appeal is simple and in line with what I believe our shared values and principles are. Coach Swinney I implore you not to accept an invitation to the White House if one is extended.
As we approach the MLK Holiday and in the spirit of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his letter to fellow Christians that he wrote from a Birmingham jail, I thought it appropriate to reach out to you in this manner. I write to you as my spiritual brother using the words from the last speech Dr. King gave before his assassination and ask you to demonstrate, “where you stand not in a moment of comfort and convenience, but where do you stand in this a time of challenge and controversy”? Our nation is marred in challenge and controversy and in need of real leadership to help us regain our moral center. Your status as the nations best football coach gives you a platform similar to that only achieved by rockstars. Today, I appeal to your strong sense of righteousness and accountability to use your platform to promote civility, equity, inclusion and to just do what you know in your heart to be the right thing to do.
Similar to the clergy that Dr. King was reaching out to with his Letter From A Birmingham Jail, you have the ability to reach an audience that is probably deaf and blind to statements made by me on the issues of equity and inclusion. You also have both an opportunity and obligation to show your coaching staff, team, university, community, family and fellow Christians what it looks like to walk, talk, and act in your faith and do the right thing. Remember another MLK quote states, “The time is always right to do the right thing”.
By declining an invitation to the Whitehouse you would be role modeling for your players and everyone else who is watching you in this moment exactly how true leaders use their platforms to make a difference as well as placing your leadership legacy on an entirely new level. You would also be showing the world what sacrifice and service to a higher cause and calling actually looks like. Your boycott, similar to King’s boycott, might also be the spark that our country needs to begin living up to the lofty goals listed in the Preamble to our Constitution. I am not asking you to make any speeches or statements saying whether you agree or disagree with the Presidents policies, I am simply asking that you acknowledge through your absence that regardless of the intentions of those policies the outcomes and impacts are wrong.
In closing I leave you with one last message to ponder from the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who stated, “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends”. Thanks for your consideration, and “Go Tigers!”
Bryant K. Smith “Thee Human Potential Specialist”/ Editor-in-Chief MCUVoice