With the 2020 college football season seemingly hanging on by a thread, players around the NCAA are ushering one final push in hopes of playing a season this fall.
With the Big Ten and Pac-12 expected to cancel or postpone their seasons on Tuesday, the rumors have earned a response from some of the biggest names in the sport who took to Twitter to share their stance on the coming season. Among their sentiments and concerns, the most notable response was the players’ proposal of a college football players association – a union which could push to save the college football season and demand the proper treatment and safety precautions in the process.
Late Sunday night, a graphic began to circulate within the college football world and was ultimately shared by notable players such as Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence, Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields, Oklahoma State running back Chuba Hubbard, Alabama running back Najee Harris and numerous others.
The image showcased the logos of all five Power Five conferences above the two trending hashtags coined by players recently: #WeAreUnited and #WeWantToPlay.
Their call to unionize also featured a further explanation of their hopes and wishes for these efforts.
- “We all want to play football this season.”
- “Establish universal mandated health and safety procedures and protocols to protect college-athletes against COVID-19 among all conferences throughout the NCAA”
- “Give players the opportunity to opt out and respect their decision”
- “Guarantee eligibility whether a player chooses to play the season or not”
- “Use our voices to establish open communication and trust between players and officials; ultimately create a college football players association”
- “Representative of the players of All Power 5 Conferences”
Sunday’s efforts became the first NCAA-wide attempt to unite across conferences in the wake of COVID-19. Previously, Pac-12 players threatened to opt out until economic, racial justice and safety issues were addressed while Big Ten athletes released a list of safety and COVID-related demands for themselves and their families. Both conferences’ players aired their concerns through articles in the Players’ Tribune. Now, the efforts are much larger as they transcend conference borders in a final push from players following the anticipated cancelations on Tuesday.
The attempt to unionize is only the second ever in college football and comes six years after Northwestern’s football team tried to form the first union in the NCAA to fight for better health protections, compensation and other benefits. After gaining support on a regional level, their plan was ultimately shot down on a larger scheme.
While many players have expressed their strong desire to play, a number of others chose to opt out of the coming season for health and safety concerns. Minnesota wide receiver Rashod Bateman, Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons, Miami defensive lineman Gregory Rousseau, Maryland quarterback Josh Jackson, Purdue wide receiver Rondale Moore, Michigan State defensive end Jacub Panasiuk, Virginia Tech cornerback Caleb Farley, Illinois running back Ra’Von Bonner, Auburn linebacker Chandley Wooten and Pitt defensive tackle Jaylen Twyman are just some of the notable names who chose to forgo the upcoming season. But the remaining players demand the opportunity to take the field this fall even though the leagues believe risk of playing a season during a global pandemic is too much to wager.
The pushback on college administrators and conference leaders has come from more than just the athletes. Coaches have expressed a similar desire to play and supported the players’ attempts to unionize and fight back against their conferences. Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh released a statement of his own amidst Monday’s rumors and said, “I am not advocating for football this fall because of my passion or our players desire to play but because of the facts accumulated over the last eight weeks since our players returned to campus on one 13. I am advocating on August 10 that this virus can be controlled and handled.”
Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh released a statement on why he’s advocating they play football this season citing recent numbers and protocols followed pic.twitter.com/8SBHPlSlQv— Tom VanHaaren (@TomVH) August 10, 2020
He continued to list nine coronavirus-related facts that support his claim of why college football could happen safely this fall and ended with similar hashtags that the players used: #WeWantToPlay and #WeWantToCoach.
But no matter how powerful the final unionizing efforts from the players and coaches may be, it seems their attempts to save college football are too little, too late with conferences ready to pull the plug on their seasons in a matter of hours.
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