By Ken Reed

Due to the immense popularity of college athletics, especially football and basketball, college athletes have always had a great deal of power.

However, until recent years, they haven’t fully realized it, or utilized it.

The latest example comes from the state of Mississippi, where college athletes played a big role in getting state politicians to ban future use of the Confederate emblem in the state flag. Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves signed the bill into law on Tuesday.

Mississippi State running back Kylin Hill led the charge from the Mississippi sports community to remove the racist Confederate emblem from the state flag. He tweeted last week that he was no longer interested in representing any Mississippi institution on the field if the flag wasn’t taken down. He was supported by numerous teammates and head coach Mike Leach.

Players from Ole Miss joined in as well. Then, last Thursday, 46 coaches from eight different Mississippi colleges and universities went to the state Capitol to call for the end of the Confederate-based state flag. The NCAA and SEC also pressured the state legislature by stating that postseason events wouldn’t be held in Mississippi until the flag and its ugly symbolism was removed.

Omeria Scott, a Mississippi congresswoman representing District 80 in the House of Representatives suggested naming the flag change legislation after Hill, saying “the voice of this young man was a tremendous voice” in the flag change process.

Of course, thousands of Mississippians, from all walks of life, including religious and business leaders, have been calling for a flag change for years. But it took the social change uprising following the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis cop, and the actions of Hill, a courageous football player for Mississippi State, to push the effort over the top.

“We can step up,” said Ole Miss defensive end Ryder Anderson. “We can use our voice, use our platform. Together we are really strong. We can really makes stuff happen if we just come together.”

Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans


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