Coaches vs. Racism aims to be about more than basketball

FILE - Carolina Panthers' Cam Newton (1) reacts at he is introduced before an NFL football game against the Dallas Cowboys in Charlotte, N.C., Sunday, Sept. 9, 2018. According to a person with knowledge of the situation, the Carolina Panthers have agreed to a one-year contact to bring quarterback Cam Newton back to the franchise that drafted him No. 1 overall in 2011. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Thursday, Nov. 11, 2021, because the deal has not been announced by the team.(AP Photo/Mike McCarn, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The executive director of the Coaches vs. Racism campaign that brought men’s college basketball teams from Michigan and Prairie View A&M to the nation’s capital says he found inspiration for his new project from Coaches vs. Cancer.

“We wanted to make it a full experience, rather than just a basketball game between an HBCU school and a Power 5 school. Our vision is to kind of model it after Coaches vs. Cancer — (Dick Vitale) and ESPN have done a really good job of keeping the narrative alive of fighting cancer. And what I wanted to do was something similar to that,” Darryl Woods said in a telephone interview. “Cancer is a dreaded disease, and we look at racism as a disease. No one is born with it, but it can be brought upon you in various ways.”

Coach Juwan Howard and his No. 6-ranked Wolverines (1-0) will face Prairie View A&M (0-2) in a Big Ten vs. Southwestern Athletic Conference matchup on Saturday night at an arena used for practice by the NBA’s Wizards and for games by the WNBA’s Mystics.

The inaugural Coaches vs. Racism contest is about more than the game. Among other associated events, Michigan was scheduled to visit the National Museum of African American History and Culture on Friday.

“Part of our mission is to educate, especially with this current generation. … We really feel like this generation could be the one to put a dent in certain aspects of social injustice,” Woods said. “Our message is bridging the racial divide through sports. That’s really want we want to do. Its not a Black thing. It’s not a white thing. It’s not a gender thing.”

He said his hope is to eventually schedule “multiple games in multiple cities” under the Coaches vs. Racism banner, and include women’s basketball, as well as perhaps other sports.

“Our group decided on possibly putting together a game and creating a platform that would allow coaches, student-athletes and those in the sports arena, in general, to have a voice and a stage,” Woods said. “Part of our job is to not let the narrative die, whether it’s fighting systemic racism or (supporting) social justice. We want to provide a platform.”