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Mississippi State football players boycott practice to protest racial injustice

Mississippi State’s football players joined athletes in a number of other sports on Thursday by boycotting their scheduled practice to protest racial injustice in the United States.

Instead of practicing, the Bulldogs marched to Unity Park in downtown Starkville and posed for photos in front of plaques honoring a number of Civil Rights activists.

In a Twitter post, Mississippi State head coach Mike Leach praised his players for their actions and said he supported them.

“I am proud to be the Head Football Coach at Mississippi State. I applaud our players for expressing some of their fears and anxieties today,” Leach wrote. “I support them and look forward to working with them tomorrow, to use football to elevate us and the people around us.”

Mississippi State’s boycott came four days after a black man, Jacob Blake, was shot seven times in the back by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin. It also followed in the wake of similar boycotts by players in a number of professional sports leagues on Wednesday and Thursday.

Playoff games in the NBA and NHL were canceled because players refused to play, as were regular-season games in Major League Baseball, the WNBA and Major League Soccer. Nine NFL teams also canceled their scheduled practices.

Seven MLB games were postponed Thursday, a day after three games were called off. The New York Mets and Miami Marlins took the field for their game, and then walked off the field following a 42-second moment of silence. A Black Lives Matter shirt was left on home plate.

Football players at the University of Kentucky also boycotted practice on Thursday.

“We are much more than football players! It’s a bigger picture. #BlackLivesMatter,” Mississippi State defensive lineman Devon Robinson tweeted. “I Stand with my team till the end.”

Several other Mississippi State players tweeted out similar messages.

“No more will we tolerate the injustice in this country the time for change is now and we can’t wait any longer #BlackLivesMatter,” sophomore safety Shawn Preston wrote.