cloudy.png
Saturday April 10th, 2021 8:04AM

Pushing for change: College athletes' voices grow strong

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Their protests are not centered on a controversial war in some far-off jungle but on issues of racial and social inequity at home. Their pulpit is not a segregated lunch counter, a music festival in upstate New York or Freedom Rides through the South but rather the seemingly boundless power of social media.

The voices of thousands of college athletes are being heard louder and clearer than they have in years and it is the most politically and socially active generation in a half-century, since the turbulent years of the late 1960s and early ‘70s.

From seemingly small issues of inequality in NCAA Tournament weight rooms to life-and-death issues of police brutality and endemic racism, athletes are increasingly calling for change, intent on molding what the future should look like for everyone.

“Some of the things that have occurred this past year, it's encouraged a lot of us to speak out on things, social justice, and how we feel,” said Loyola Chicago's Lucas Williamson, who is working on a film project involving the school's 1963 national title team that broke down racial barriers.

“The things we've seen, going back to last summer, it's been emotional for me,” Williamson said, “and it's given me the confidence to go out there and speak on some things I feel confident about, and some things that I feel are just causes.”

While the movement gained momentum last summer, when George Floyd and Breonna Taylor died at the hands of police and protests hit America's streets, the reality is that social unrest has been bubbling out of sight for years.

It took Colin Kaepernick taking a knee to bring it to the surface.

The NFL quarterback's polarizing stance against social and racial injustice in 2016 was embraced by other pro athletes, and that in turn encouraged college athletes to take a stand. They joined the #MeToo movement against sexual harassment and abuse, and began threatening to strike — to walk off the field of play — unless their demands were heard and met.

Protests by more than two dozen Missouri football players against on-campus racism led to the ouster of the president of the university system and the chancellor of its flagship campus. And despite pushback from legislators that threatened to strip funding for scholarships, they found support from athletes on campuses across the country.

The movement had gone mainstream. The momentum had become unstoppable.

According to Andrew M. Linder, a professor of sociology at Skidmore College, there are two main reasons for this athlete-fueled focus on change: First, younger people in general are more progressive on such issues as race, gender and injustice than previous cohorts at the same age, and second, they have been emboldened by their athletic heroes.

“Many of the current group of college players may have grown up being inspired by not just their on-court play but also their dedication to speaking out,” Linder said. “Consider a college freshman that was about 12 years old when LeBron James wore an ”I Can't Breathe" T-shirt in solidarity with protests of Eric Garner's death. Sports heroes' words and deeds matter."

James has 49.5 million followers on Twitter. His reach is almost unending. Yet even college athletes whose voices in the past might have been drowned out are being heard.

At the women's NCAA Tournament in Texas, a video from Oregon’s Sedona Price that exposed the poor workout facilities compared to their counterparts at the men's tournament forced the NCAA to make an embarrassing apology, and their weight room was upgraded in a matter of days. Men's players demanded — and got — a meeting with NCAA President Mark Emmert to talk about compensation and equality issues.

“We are in a new generation," said N'Dea Jones, a standout on the Texas A&M women's team. “People have been afraid to speak up, especially concerning blackballing or the consequences of speaking up against the NCAA. But from what everybody has been through this year with racial injustices, inequality and COVID, people have found in themselves that they need to speak up.”

Jones pointed to the WNBA for showing what is possible.

WNBA players began by raising awareness of the Black Lives Matter movement years ago with T-shirts and by kneeling but continued to take greater steps: Players opted out of playing entirely, and many openly campaigned against then-Georgia Sen. Kelly Loeffler — a vocal opponent of the movement who owned the Atlanta Dream — and succeeded in getting her opponent, Raphael Warnock, elected.

“It's not only the athletes, it's this generation,” said Minnesota Lynx coach Katie Smith, part of three Olympic gold medal-winning teams and two WNBA champions. “They empower me. It's amazing they can and are willing to put themselves out there, to institute change and demand what's right.”

Many of them are doing so at significant risk. A disproportionate number of athletes come from poor economic backgrounds, and their scholarship is the only thing that affords them the opportunity to get an education.

“They don't have a players' union behind them, and their scholarships can basically be revoked at any time, and I'm sure those stakes aren't lost on them,” said Dan Hawkins, a professor of sociology at the University of Nebraska-Omaha.

“I would only add that college athletes, particularly those in the revenue sports, have also started to realize they have real power,” Hawkins said.

There are plenty of college athletes these days that are willing to put in real work on off-court issues like racial, social and economic injustice.

“It has to be stopped. It has to be addressed. You can't sweep it under the mat,” said Porter Moser, the former Loyola Chicago coach just hired at Oklahoma. “You hear a lot of people saying, ‘We have mask fatigue.’ Well, we can't have social justice fatigue. It has to be constant. It has to be every day.”

___

More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/College-basketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Sports, AP Online Basketball, College Sports, AP Online - Georgia News, AP Sports - WNBA
© Copyright 2021 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Pushing for change: College athletes' voices grow strong
Their protests are not centered on a controversial war in some far-off jungle but issues of racial and social inequity at home
1:28PM ( 9 minutes ago )
Singing hymns through masks, Christians mark pandemic Easter
Christianity’s most joyous feast day is being celebrated worldwide with worshippers spaced apart in pews and singing choruses of “Hallelujah” through face coverings for the second Easter Sunday in a row
1:25PM ( 12 minutes ago )
Iran spy TV show ignites controversy for 2nd season
A controversial Iranian TV spy thriller is once again generating buzz in the Islamic Republic
1:02PM ( 35 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
AP survey: ADs concerned NIL will skew competitive balance
An Associated Press survey of Division I athletic directors found that nearly 73% believe allowing athletes to be compensated for use of their name, image or likeness will decrease the number of schools that have a chance to be competitive in college sports
9:07AM ( 4 hours ago )
Rikako Ikee qualifies for Tokyo Olympic after leukemia
Japanese swimmer Rikako Ikee has qualified for the Tokyo Olympics just two years after she was diagnosed with leukemia
6:06AM ( 7 hours ago )
LEADING OFF: Ohtani back on the mound, Sanchez slugging
Shohei Ohtani’s quest to regain his reputation as a stellar two-way player gets a big test when he takes the mound for the Los Angeles Angels against the White Sox
3:20AM ( 10 hours ago )
AP Sports
The Latest: Gonzaga having trouble shaking upstart UCLA
Gonzaga can’t quite shake UCLA in the national semifinals
10:33PM ( 15 hours ago )
The Latest: Big day for Nembhard family, besides Final Four
It was a big day for Nembhard family, and that was before Andrew Nembhard played for top-seeded Gonzaga in the Final Four
10:12PM ( 15 hours ago )
The Latest: UCLA going toe-to-toe with favored Zags at half
UCLA is going toe-to-toe with Gonzaga at the Final Four
9:45PM ( 15 hours ago )
AP Online Basketball
The Latest: Baylor rolling over Houston 45-20 at halftime
Jared Butler is more than halfway toward a career high with 17 points and the Bears lead Houston 45-20 at halftime of their national semifinal
6:10PM ( 19 hours ago )
The Latest: Sasser carrying otherwise cold-shooting UH early
So far, Marcus Sasser is carrying the Houston offense
5:56PM ( 19 hours ago )
The Latest: 1st NCAA semifinal game under way in Indy
The first NCAA Tournament semifinal game has tipped off in Indianapolis with two Texas teams that have Indiana connections
5:34PM ( 20 hours ago )
College Sports
Georgia firefighter’s family recounts harrowing tornado
NEWNAN, Ga. (AP) — After a harrowing tornado tore through Newnan late last month, local firefighter Jason Scott found himself in the nightmare scenario of driving to his own destroyed home.Scott...
12:00AM ( 13 hours ago )
Patchwork: Braves cover All-Star logo on jerseys, shift hats
The Atlanta Braves looked a little patchwork in their second game of the season
8:41PM ( 16 hours ago )
Wheeler dominates as Phillies beat Braves 4-0
Zack Wheeler struck out 10 while pitching seven innings of one-hit ball, leading the Philadelphia Phillies to a 4-0 win over the Atlanta Braves
8:05PM ( 17 hours ago )
AP Online - Georgia News
Weighty issue: Inequity raised in women's, men's tourneys
The teams had barely landed in Texas when complaints of inequity between the women’s and men’s tournaments roared over social media posts noting the women’s weight training facilities in San Antonio were severely lacking compared to what the men have in Indianapolis
9:16PM ( 2 weeks ago )
Curry, WNBA players receive Jackie Robinson award from NAACP
NBA star Stephen Curry is drawing acclaim from civil rights leaders for his work campaigning for social justice, his support of women’s causes and his interview with Dr. Anthony Fauci about the pandemic
11:10AM ( 2 weeks ago )
College players will need to opt-in to upcoming WNBA draft
The WNBA and the Players’ Association have agreed to an opt-in process for this season’s draft, the league confirmed to The Associated Press
12:37AM ( 3 weeks ago )
AP Sports - WNBA
Singing hymns through masks, Christians mark pandemic Easter
Christianity’s most joyous feast day is being celebrated worldwide with worshippers spaced apart in pews and singing choruses of “Hallelujah” through face coverings for the second Easter Sunday in a row
1:25PM ( 12 minutes ago )
Iran spy TV show ignites controversy for 2nd season
A controversial Iranian TV spy thriller is once again generating buzz in the Islamic Republic
1:02PM ( 36 minutes ago )
Turkey: Ex-admirals derided for statement on straits treaty
A group of more than 100 retired Turkish admirals have come under fire over a statement that government officials tied to past military coups in Turkey
12:58PM ( 40 minutes ago )
'Godzilla vs. Kong' stomps to pandemic-best $48.5M opening
With the help of a few old friends, the box office rekindled some of its old might over the weekend
12:35PM ( 1 hour ago )
The Latest: Religious figures to have vaccine site in Italy
Priests, nuns and other people living in community settings are among the vaccination priority groups permitted under Italy’s revised national rollout
12:17PM ( 1 hour ago )