By Ken Reed
The NCAA approved a mandate back in September which required all sports at NCAA-member college campuses to shut down for Election Day.
It was a forward-thinking move. It signaled to college athletes, in all sports, how important voting is in a democracy. A person’s vote truly is his/her voice.
Perhaps the NCAA can now take a leadership role within the growing movement to create a new federal holiday: National Election Day.
Why not a National Election Day? If elections are the foundation of a democracy, why shouldn’t we as a country do all we can do to make it easier for everyone to vote? A day off to focus on doing one’s patriotic duty would do just that.
Eric Reveno, an assistant basketball coach at Georgia Tech, has been credited with coming up with the idea of making Election Day a day off for college athletes. He pushed it on social media with the hashtag #AllVoteNoPlay. Georgia Tech’s football coach, Geoff Collins backed the idea.
Texas football coach Tom Herman planned to provide transportation to the polls for those players on his team who needed it
However, a lot of football coaches around the country weren’t happy with a day away from game preparation.
Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said he doesn’t understand the decision. No shock there.
Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said “It’s less than an ideal situation.” No shock there, either.
Football coaches tend to live in their own narrow world. Most of them have tunnel vision. Alabama football coach Nick Saban infamously said the day after the presidential election in 2016, “It was so important to me that I didn’t even know it was happening. We’re focused on other things here.”
Nice. And Saban is supposedly an “educator” of “student-athletes.”
Hey coaches, there’s more to life than football practices. And here’s the key point, nobody got an unfair advantage with this mandate. Every team had Tuesday off, so the playing field remained balance.
Before the NCAA made Election Day Off official, a few schools like UCLA and Minnesota were planning on giving their players the day off to vote anyway. Now, that would have put those teams at a disadvantage, but the fact those schools were planning to do it anyway is commendable. Their coaches were saying loud and clear, “Some things are more important than practicing football. And Election Day is one of them.”
The NCAA made a powerful statement by declaring Election Day a dark day. And in doing so, actually fulfilled its role as an educational institution. A rarity indeed.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #29 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The Honorable Tom McMillen Visits League of Fans’ Sports Forum – McMillen is a former All-American basketball player, Olympian, Rhodes Scholar and U.S. Congressman, and has a long involvement with the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sport (now called the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition). We discuss the state of college athletics today, given the pressures of NIL, the transfer portal, sports gambling and huge media contracts. McMillen then provides great perspective on the poor state of physical fitness our young people are experiencing today.
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Episode #28 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: A Chat With Mano Watsa, a Leading Basketball and Life Educator – Watsa is President of PGC Basketball, the largest education basketball camp in the world. We discuss problems in youth sports today.
Episode #27 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Kids’ Sports: How We Can Take Back the Game and Restore Quality Family Time In the Process – Linda Flanagan is author of “Take Back the Game: How Money and Mania Are Ruining Kids’ Sports and Why It Matters.” We discuss how commercialized and professionalized youth sports are hurting kids and their families.
Episode #26 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: How Can We Fix Youth Sports? – John O’Sullivan is Founder and CEO of Changing the Game Project and author of “Changing the Game: The Parents Guide to Raising Happy, High Performing Athletes and Giving Youth Sports Back to Our Kids.”
Episode #25 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Physical Education Should Be a Critical Component of K-12 School Design – Michael Horn is co-founder of the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation.
Episode #24 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Mental Health and Athletes: Ending the Stigma – Nathan Braaten and Taylor Ricci are the founders of Dam Worth It, a non-profit created to end the stigma around mental health at colleges and universities through sport, storytelling, and community creation.
Media"How We Can Save Sports" author Ken Reed appears on Fox & Friends to explain how there's "too much adult in youth sports."
Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
“Should College Athletes Be Paid?” Ken Reed on The Morning Show from Wisconsin Public Radio
Ken Reed appears on KGNU Community Radio in Colorado (at 02:30) to discuss equality in sports and Title IX.
Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
- Reed Appears on Ralph Nader Radio Hour League of Fans’ sports policy director, Ken Reed, Ralph Nader and the New York Times’ Tyler Kepner discussed a variety of sports issues on Nader’s radio show as well as Reed’s updated book, How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan. Reed's book was released in paperback in February, and has a new introduction and several updated sections.
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
Vanderbilt Sport & Society - On The Ball with Andrew Maraniss with guest Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director for League of Fans and author of How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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