In the past, college athletes have been kept quiet. Today, they are no longer under the radar. Steps are being taken. Voices are being heard. They’ve gone to the internet and they’ve marched in the streets. Student athletes across the country have created a movement of change in their collegiate communities.
Now more than ever, college athletes are outspoken. In the past we have heard student athletes speak up about exploitation and inequality in the college sports industry, but other than that, the athletes have been relatively muted and under the radar. Their biggest voice would be in the post-game interview, yet then we would not hear from then until the next big game rolled around. We have seen this develop and change into something much larger.
While most of the fall seasons have been pushed back, student athletes are pushing the bigger issues to the front. They understand their power and influence on people of all ages, and by doing so, they are using their outreach to share strong messages within their communities. In a stand against social injustice, many student athletes have turned towards social media. On Twitter and Facebook they have created video campaigns, speeches, daily and weekly updates—anything of the sort to raise awareness of the prevalent social issues we see going on today.
These players are not on their own with this. Coaches have been stepping up and supporting them, whether it be on social media or in person. Head coaches, these figures of power, have joined their students in advocacy for what is best for their communities. Players, coaches and staff alike are coming together as one in support of each other and the communities around them.
On Aug. 31, Alabama head coach Nick Saban led a large group of his players on a march to protest social injustice and incidents of police brutality against black men and women. Other athletes from the university joined as well in the march of protest. These people understand their influence on a national scale and are using their power to advocate for justice.
All of this outspokenness has led to concerns about whether or not there would be repercussions against the players or coaches by the schools themselves. It has been refreshing to see many schools across the nation elevating their players on their social media platforms, but it will be interesting to see whether or not this changes when sports seasons pick back up in the spring.
When the time comes, we will truly be able to see what sort of rules will be laid out for the athletes. When they are televised, and on that national platform, will there be any major repercussions for any statements? We have seen the MLB literally put BLM onto the mound at every stadium. We have seen the NBA and the WNBA implement messages into their pregame warmups and even the names on their jerseys. I am patiently waiting to see how the NCAA will handle this situation.
We have seen the NCAA be one with the players and stand up against social justice, but will it go any further than a video on Twitter? Will the players have the ability to stand up against injustice and kneel without being fined? Right now, I am optimistic that the NCAA will be supportive and work with the athletes, as they have been doing very well this year. The student athletes want to be heard, will the NCAA be willing to listen?