Fine article in today’s New York Times on the influence of black college athletes in the racial injustice protest movement.
The gravity of the national moment emboldened the players, especially because it was a challenge to a justice system that many believed stood poised to oppress them or their black teammates when they were away from the field. Often cheered by their vast followings on social media, they also drew motivation from a long-simmering debate that has recently driven student-athletes to question their place in a $14 billion industry and consider whether they deserve to profit off their fame and talents.
The news is that colleges (even football coaches) are listening, as are many institutions in America because of the intensity and breadth of the George Floyd/Black Lives Matter movement.
But this caught my eye. Will Arkansas colleges give their athletes a day off from athletics Nov. 3 to vote, as the NCAA has recommended? The backstory from the Times:
When Georgia Tech’s men’s basketball team gathered over Zoom, each participant was asked to express his emotions in two words. Players described being “frustrated,” “angry” and “tired.” The two words for Eric Reveno, a 54-year-old white assistant coach, were “embarrassed” and “disgusted.”
That night, Reveno stewed on something that Malachi Rice, one of the team’s leaders, had said: that too many people protest injustice but do not bother to vote.
Reveno woke up the next morning with an idea: that the N.C.A.A. should ban athletic activities on Election Day to encourage its more than 460,000 athletes to vote.
No practice, no meetings, no games.
In response, the N.C.A.A.’s powerful Board of Governors said Friday afternoon that it was encouraging its member schools to make Nov. 3 a day off for athletic activities.
“We commend N.C.A.A. student-athletes who recognized the need for change and took action though safe and peaceful protest,” the board said in a statement.
Before the association’s statement, U.C.L.A. had announced voter education sessions for all 25 of its teams, and Georgia Tech said nine of its in-season teams, including football, would not hold mandatory activities on Election Day.
Reveno said support with words was “not enough.”
“We teach them financial literacy — the power of interest over time, the dangers of credit card debt, about how much that daily latte is costing them,” Reveno said. “What about investing in your community so that your kid’s life is shaped more the way you wanted? Being an engaged and active citizen is the most powerful thing we do as an American.”
Several major universities (there are 1,100 in the NCAA representing nearly a half-million athletes) have announced they’ll follow the NCAA recommendation. I’ve asked the UA if they’ve considered the issue yet.