The Atlantic

College Football Players Can Resist Their Exploiters

Amid the pandemic and the protests, athletes can demand better treatment.
Source: The Atlantic

After decades of playing for free and risking their bodies, college football players now have a chance to realize their power. The coronavirus pandemic and the national focus on injustice and inequality since the killing of George Floyd are combining to increase players’ leverage over their school.  

Earlier this month, players at Florida State University demanded an apology from Mike Norvell, their first-year head coach. Norvell, who is white, earlier told a reporter that he had personally connected with each of his athletes about Floyd’s death and the subsequent protests. But the star defensive tackle Marvin Wilson, who is black, knew otherwise and announced on Twitter that he and his teammates “will not be working out until further notice.” The players’ threat worked. Norvell said he was sorry, and no players were disciplined.

Suddenly, college football has of Division I college players, according to NCAA data, and the majority of the top performers chosen in the National Football League draft. The pandemic, meanwhile, is threatening the college football season. Athletic directors are scrambling to figure out how to stage games safely, and they’re confronting the ugly optics of coercing football players to play even if other students aren’t coming to campus.

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