By Ken Reed

Several good pieces have come out the last couple days about how college athletes are embracing the power they inherently have to help shape college sports moving forward. Pac-12, Big Ten and Mountain West football players have presented their conferences with a list of demands that they want addressed before they move forward with this season.

“This is their call. You may not like it, but times have changed. The players are acutely aware they control both the supply and demand of college football,” wrote CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd.

“Taking a knee? How about taking charge of a sport that has exploited its players for far too long? With athletes formally organizing, history is being witnessed in real time. They have finally realized, en masse, that they are the product.”

College athletes have never had a union to represent them and voice their concerns. The NCAA, supposedly created to protect athletes, is toothless. Now, as athletes have been called back to campuses across the country in the midst of a pandemic in order to make money for universities, college football players are resisting and organizing via social media.

“Perhaps the silver lining to the atrocity of this summer of harm, then, has been the incredible burgeoning resistance movement from college athletes who are seizing power and speaking out against a system that has long denied their voices,” wrote Nathan Kalman-Lamb, Derek Silva and Johanna Mellis in a well-done long-form piece in The Guardian.

It’s very possible we’re in the midst of a perfect storm, out of which, a more just — and safer — college sports model could emerge.

“This is creating a reckoning for the plantation system of college football like we have never seen before,” wrote Dave Zirin in The Nation.

“It’s the pandemic. It’s the racism. It’s the absence of economic justice. And it’s a volatile combination that could change the system forever.”

Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans


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