Seth Towns Mixes Sports with Activism

Dave Ghose
Columbus Monthly
Ohio State basketball player Seth Towns gives an impassioned speech to protesters during a demonstration in Downtown Columbus on May 31, 2020.

Even before playing in his first game at Ohio State, Seth Towns made his mark on the basketball court. The Harvard graduate transfer kneeled during the national anthem before the Buckeyes’ Dec. 8 victory over Notre Dame. Later, Towns, who didn’t make his OSU playing debut until the end of December because of a knee injury, explained his protest on Twitter. “Justice for Casey Goodson,” he wrote above a kneeling image of himself. 

Four days earlier, a Franklin County sheriff’s deputy who was part of a fugitive task force shot and killed the 23-year-old Goodson. Police claimed Goodson refused to drop a gun for which he had a concealed carry permit during the confrontation with police, but family members and their attorney have questioned that claim. A day after the shooting, Towns memorialized his childhood friend Goodson on Twitter, describing him as “one of the most kind-hearted people I’ve ever known” and challenging the police account of what happened. 

Towns’ outspokenness wasn’t surprising. He’s been socially engaged going back to his days at Northland High School, where he excelled in the classroom and on the basketball court. He also attracted national headlines in May when he was detained by Columbus police during the George Floyd protests in Downtown Columbus. After being released from custody, he posted a video on his Twitter account. “In a span of just 24 hours, I walked from a Harvard virtual graduation stage to the back of a police van, both of which I am equally proud of,” he said.