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


Comments are closed.

Set your Twitter account name in your settings to use the TwitterBar Section.