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#WeWantToPlay: There is a Seismic Shift Taking Place in College Sports

Written by Kassandra Ramsey

· College Football,NCAA,WeAreUnited,College Athlete NIL,PayforPlay

Over the last two weeks, there have been major developments in college sports. The most notable developments have come from the college athletes themselves. On August 2, 2020, college football players from the Pac-12 conference released their plan to boycott the upcoming the college football season if their demands regarding college football and COVID-19 were not met. On August 5, 2020, college football players in the Big 10 conference joined the conversation via an article in the Players Tribune entitled #BigTenUnited.

On August 9, 2020, college football players in all of the Power 5 conferences took to Twitter to show that they are all dedicated to the cause with #WeWantToPlay. There is no doubt a seismic shift taking place in college sports. The players are finally realizing that they are the life of the college sports business and that there is no collegiate athletics without them. The players are using that realization to demand the changes they want and need to see.

College Athletes Across the Power 5 Conferences Have Joined the Fight

The sentiment of college football players in the Pac-12 conference has reached college football players in all of the Power 5 conferences. The players in all the conferences seek to have their respective conferences provide transparencey and safety in regards to resuming college sports amidst the Coronavirus pandemic.

Big 10 Unity Proposal

College athletes in the Big 10 conference joined College Athlete Unity (CAU) and submitted a proposal to the Big 10 conference entitled Big 10 Unity Proposal. CAU is an organization ran by college athletes whose mission is "to empower the student-athlete to speak out against injustice and amplify the platform they are given through college sports." Similar to the Pac-12 players, the Big 10 athletes are requesting that the well-being of college athletes be protected. Specifically, they are requesting:

  • A third party, approved by players, administer COVID-19 testing and enforce all COVID-19 health and safety standards,
  • Testing of everyone who comes in contact with college athletes, including coaches, trainers, medical staff, nutrition staff, referees, media, etc., 
  • Whistleblower protections for athletics personnel and college athletes reporting a suspected violation,
  • Coverage for all out-of-pocket medical expenses related to COVID-19 (both short-term and long-term) incurred by active college athletes.

Perhaps what was the most notable about the Big 10 Unity proposal was the athletes request to be a part of the conversation. The players addressed the fact that they are the primary stakeholders in the college sports business and that as such they should be consulted in all decisions. The players are right. Apparently college athletes in all the Power 5 conferences agree with the sentitment of those in the Pac-12 and the Big 10.

The Power 5 Conference College Athletes Are United

On August 9, 2020 several college football players across all Power 5 conferences took to Twitter to show their support for the movement started by the Pac-12 players. Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence joined the movement with this tweet:

Oklahoma State running back Chuba Hubbard returned to social media to voice his support.

Many other players joined Hubbard and Lawrence in voicing their support on Twitter. In the post, the athletes are letting everyone know that want to play. However, the players are requesting that certain conditions be met before they play. The players want universal mandated health and safety procedures to address COVID-19. The players want guaranteed elgibility and the opportunity to opt out of the season. The most notable demand that the players made is the ultimate creation of a college football players association. In 2014, college football players attempted to form a players union.

In 2015, their request was ultimately denied by the National Labor Relations Board. However, things have changed drastically in college sports since then. The current college sports model has suffered major blows in court. Several states have enacted laws allowing college athletes to profit from their name, image and likeness. The United States Congress is set to create legislation addressing college athlete rights. Perhaps the time is ripe for college athletes to unite and form a union. Either way the college players have certainly realized their power and is making moves to be the change they want and need to see. #WeAreUnited #BigTenUnited #WeWantToPlay

For more on college athletes' name, image, and likeness rights follow me on Twitter @esquire_coach and on Instagram @the_esquirecoach. To receive updates from The Esquire Coach Blog directly to your email please subscribe below.