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Golden Nuggets: Why Hasn’t There Been an Anthem Protest By a Cal Player?

Who still thinks Cal Football can get a bowl game? A slew of Men’s Basketball videos and articles after their exhibition last night.

Arizona State v California
Noah Westerfield is featured in a recent Daily Cal article about activism among Cal athletes.
Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images


  • No press conferences from football, but the “Fight for California” montage video for Oregon State is out.

Of the two games remaining, you have to like the odds against a probably Rosen-less, can’t tackle against the run to save their lives, might have already quit on Jim Mora UCLA team. And you could also talk yourself into feeling good about Stanford, which still might not have a healthy Bryce Love in two weeks, will be coming off a brutal, physical match-up and likely loss to Washington, and plays us off of a bye in an environment that will not be a true home game.

I’m on the record as not being mad if we don’t make a bowl, and I’m sticking to it, because it’s not fair to revise upward on a team that’s really maximizing all it has left. For God’s sake, we’re up to 11 guys out for the year now: Rambo, Turner, Robertson, Saffle, Goode, Downs, Daltoso (likely), Hudson, Stovall, Watson, and Johnson.

That being said, given all of the above, if you told me we’d be in this position through 10 games, I would take it. Even the conditions heading into UCLA and Stanford are about as ideal as they can be for us.

So let’s go do the thing, paying no mind to the fact that we could have already gotten it done right now were it not for one incomplete pass.

Bowl Projections

  • ESPN’s Kyle Bonagura: Frisco Bowl vs. Memphis
  • ESPN’s David Hale: Birmingham Bowl vs. Houston
  • Sports Illustrated’s Eric Single: Hawaii Bowl vs. former coach Jeff Tedford and Fresno State
  • Yahoo Sports: Las Vegas Bowl vs. Boise State
  • CBS Sports, presumably Jerry Palm: No Bowl
  • SB Nation’s Jason Kirk: No Bowl
  • Jon Wilner: No Bowl

Men’s Basketball

From Cal Athletics

On the team's press defense:

"I thought the press was good today and I feel like the press was better than the halfcourt 2-3. The press was good. We sped them up and turned them over 19 times. We got eight steals. Obviously, Kingsley did his job protecting the rim. I was happy with the press today. It's a situation that I think is going to get better as they get more and more comfortable playing it with refs and not just in practice."

On Marcus Lee's play:

"He was very good. I can nitpick but Marcus was good tonight. He had a presence and as long as his teammates continue to look for him, he's going to be good for us all year."

On Don Coleman as one of the team's primary scorers:

"I don't want him to feel like if he's open, he can't shoot the ball because he is our best scorer and from the guard position. He's the only proven scorer I would say because I've seen him do it in games."

Forward Marcus Lee

On first game in Haas Pavilion:

"522 days later…but who's counting? Man, it feels fantastic. At first, I had a few jitters not knowing what was coming up, but once I got on the court with my guys, warming up before the game, everything started feeling comfortable."

Center Kingsley Okoroh

On team's goals for exhibition:

"We wanted to enjoy our first game, especially for the freshman, and it was satisfying. I think we could have beaten them by more, but you take the win every day. To see everyone -- obviously we have some players missing -- but I think everyone looked good and we have a good outlook going forward."

On full-court pressure style:

"I think it is enjoyable. We really get to speed teams up, turn the ball over and then we have quick guards to capitalize on the mistakes. I don't think we capitalized as well as we could have today, but we've got the speed part of it down. We just need to finish better."

Guard Don Coleman

On changes to his game since last season:

"I'm looked at as more of a scorer, so I'm taking more shots I would say. I didn't play well today, but I'm pretty sure on Friday I will be better. I think I could have made more shots, and I rushed more shots than I should have."

"It's been a long sit-out year, but very enjoyable," Lee said. "I was able to take the time and sit back and learn a different aspect of sports, where instead of being on the court, you're a spectator, or you're a teammate who can help, being able to talk in Kingsley's ear. It was a different way of learning about basketball, that I can bring in and help our team, this year."

Lee presides over a group of seven newcomers, the most new head coach Wyking Jones has ever had on any team of which he's been a part.

"I feel like I have gray hairs coming in," Lee said. "When I was getting into college, I had seniors to show me the way and kind of show me right from wrong, how to go through practice, how to go through school. Now, we have quite a few seniors here on our team, and we can do the exact same for our freshmen, and kind of get them up to speed."


  • After his monster game against No. 1 USC, Kevin Le Vine won the MPSF Water Polo Player of the Week for the second time this season!
  • Pitcher Sean Sullivan was committed to Oregon State. He then took a visit and watched Cal Football beat the Beavers. Now he’s committed to Cal. Coincidence? Probably, but still a nice steal for Mike Neu.
  • Closing this GN with an article from the Daily Cal that was resulted in my GN headline. In a 2016 Election Retrospective, writer Nicky Shapiro looks at the “burden” Cal athletes have to face being activists and athletes, the disrespect they often get from their peers (sometimes known as NARPs - Non-Athletic Regular Person) and also asks why we haven’t seen any Cal athletes protest the anthem. (Obviously football players can’t, they come out of the tunnel after the anthem, but multiple sports including WBB have seen protests in other ways, just not the anthem)

This academic year, nearly three years after the Cal women’s basketball team protest, about 850 Cal student-athletes will have the opportunity to make a statement addressing any of the injustices that exist in society today. At the capital of college activism, it is unlikely that any of them will.

As the Kaepernick movement zipped across sports last year, the Cal women’s soccer team never came close to taking a knee during the national anthem. Despite their progressive tendencies, neither did members of the Cal women’s basketball team. Though Cal football players don’t have the option of kneeling for the anthem — television technicalities mean players don’t run out onto the field until after the song’s completion — no display of on-field activism has ever been seriously considered even by Westerfield, a BSAC founder.

For professor emeritus Edwards, a man who has devoted his life to fostering athlete statements of protests, this can be attributed to campus leaders and, more broadly, a lack of leadership in the activist community. It’s yet to be seen whether a decentralized movement such as Black Lives Matter can elicit the kind of leadership Edwards says is necessary to inspire a widespread movement on the collegiate level.

“This is not the athlete’s responsibility,” Edwards said. “It’s everybody’s responsibility. It’s the responsibility of we the people. The struggle has to continue. Eventually, they’ll get it right.”

Under the leadership of Smith-Gooden and Westerfield, the BSAC is trying to take Cal student-athletes there. The club has garnered nearly universal respect among Black student-athletes on campus, with upperclassmen coming up to Westerfield regularly, saying how nice it would have been to have the group as a freshman or sophomore. The women’s basketball team does its best to make the biweekly meetings, and Gottlieb said her team would have a discussion about what to do during the national anthem as the season neared, leaving open the possibility for a protest.

Go Bears.