Chris Petersen (Washington Football HC) on Holding Meetings with Players on World Issues


Chris Vannini, (

On Friday nights before games this season, Chris Petersen talks to his Washington team about… politics? Yes, politics, global issues, other things happening outside the football building.

Petersen recently joined Brock & Salk and explained why he doesn’t want football 24/7 in his program. Much like the other popular football coach in Seattle, Petersen said he wants players to be aware of the world.

“One of the things with our program is we talk about the things going on in the world, whether it’s the stuff going on in South Dakota with the pipeline, whether it’s what went on in Paris this summer, Brexit in England, the election,” Petersen said. “Some of those things have really come up, and our guys are passionate about some of these things. We completely talk about them since last year. When the election happened, I came in the next day, and I had four guys looking at me, ‘Are we having a team meeting?’

“When something comes up, we have a team meeting, and I talk about some of those things. I don’t have a lot of answers. Those things are hard to solve. Nobody can solve them. They’re complex things, but at least try to put things in context to make sense. We’ll have a team meeting, and ‘What do you think about this?’”

Petersen doesn’t try to persuade players to any leaning. It’s just about players discovering context and forming opinions from there. Given the schedules players have, there’s not a lot of time for outside world understanding.

It also brings the context of where football fits in the big picture.

“I really mean this. We just try to make it more than just football. If it was football 24/7, I would be very, very bored very quickly,” Petersen said. “I like that stuff. It’s our responsibility to open these kids’ eyes. These kids go to school, they go to football, and they do that 24/7, and it’s very easy to be isolated from what’s going on in the real world. Social media makes it different, but they’re college kids. Are they really paying attention to what’s going on in England? We really try to challenge them to pay attention. That’s part of the building for life program we talk about.

“I want these kids thinking about that stuff. When they leave us, they’re going to build on that platform. On Friday nights, I will talk a lot of times about what is going on in the world, and they appreciate it and they get it. We know we are playing this huge game tomorrow and we’ll talk about stuff that’s going on in the real world and they like it.”

Nick Saban may not have known the election happened, but the Huskies did. But that won’t determine who wins their Playoff game. Washington and Alabama will meet in the Peach Bowl on Dec. 31 at 3 p.m. ET.

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