The NCAA has long marginalized athletes who make millions for many except themselves, but perhaps no situation has highlighted the absurdity of the business as much as the coronavirus pandemic. In some cases, schools require students to stay home and take online classes while having athletes play soccer games. Other schools are asking players to sign waivers exonerating them from any liability involving COVID. Universities make decisions without official input from players – unlike the return of all other sports – because conference commissioners, athletic directors and coaches have too much money at stake not to play.
And all of this is happening against the backdrop of a civil rights movement that is perhaps drawing more attention than ever to the plight of black Americans. The NCAA announced in July that it would allow athletes to wear social justice slogans on the back of their jerseys in 2020-21. Meanwhile, the predominantly black workforce in the most income-generating sports (soccer and men’s basketball) is losing the opportunity to build generational wealth because all the money is being raised by the privileged few.
“Talking about Black Lives Matter as a social issue, the wealth gap is such a big part of it,” Daltoso said. “Guys who come from low-income backgrounds, when they leave school, they can go back to having nothing. A small group of people are getting all the money when it could go to so many communities.
“We’re trying to empower the lives of our teammates, change their lives and change the life trajectory of their families,” said Elisha Guidry, a defensive back at UCLA. AND. “Especially Black lives. It is those who primarily make up these sports and who are disproportionately affected by the pandemic.
At first glance, the pandemic and racial injustice may not seem related, but the two are inextricably linked. COVID deaths are higher for non-white communities, with black Americans dying at 2 1/2 times the rate of whites, according to the Covid Tracking Project. Even black Americans in high-income communities die disproportionately compared to similar white Americans, according to a study by the NYU Department of Population Health, which, according to the study’s lead author Dr. Samrachana, found Adhikari, could be explained by a “structural racism”.
The NCAA is no stranger to racism, structural or otherwise. Income sports are based on profiting from predominantly non-white work for predominantly white people in power. Again this summer, several former Iowa athletes accused a strength and conditioning trainer of making racist comments for several years, while a group of Texas athletes stood away from the activities of recruitment until the university changed the names of buildings on campus associated with racists. And now the same black athletes who help generate billions of dollars in revenue are being asked to play football when a virus is apparently targeting them.
“We are not your entertainment, we are human beings,” Jevon Holland told Oregon Security AND. “Just like you would help your family, we want to help our mother, our father, our grandmother, everyone.
“We don’t know the long-term risks. We have no idea how this will affect our body whether we have symptoms or not. I refuse to put my health at risk for someone else’s benefit.
The decision of athletes at a conference not to play until their demands have been discussed is possibly the most significant challenge the NCAA has faced amid years of public pressure on its obscure system and operation. Northwestern soccer players attempted to unionize in 2014, but it was only one school and their application was ultimately rejected nationally. Congress is currently working on legislation involving name, image and likeness rights, but despite strong criticism from senators on both sides of the aisle, comprehensive reform of the entire system is not expected.
Ultimately, a hold-out is the most impactful option.
“The way to influence change and have your voice heard is to affect the bottom line,” Daltoso said. “The guys realize the moment and stand together in unity throughout this affair. It’s bigger than ourselves. It’s for all future college athletes.
“If you look at history across this country, there hasn’t been a change without ruffling the feathers,” Guidry adds. “Not everyone will want change because otherwise it would have happened already. People are going to have strong opinions. You wish you could talk to everyone and have a civil conversation and broaden their perspective. You have to do what you know is the right thing. ”
As a result of collective player action, the NCAA has an opportunity to do the right thing and meet them at the table for honest negotiation. Earlier this summer, at the height of protests against the police assassination of George Floyd, the NCAA released a statement saying President Mark Emmert recognizes the power of protest in creating societal change.
“We applaud the NCAA student-athletes who recognized the need for change and took action through safe and peaceful protests,” the statement said. “We encourage students to continue to have their voices heard on these important issues, to engage in community activism and to exercise their constitutional rights.”
It appears that athletes are following the advice of the NCAA.