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NCAA Grants Election Day Mandate Waivers for Student Athletes

By on November 2, 2021 0
We're old enough to remember when the NCAA declared that student-athletes would be off on Election Day.

We’re old enough to remember when the NCAA said student-athletes would be off on Election Day.
Picture: Getty Images

In September 2020, the NCAA announced it would make Election Day a mandatory day off for student-athletes, with no competition or training taking place on the first Tuesday in November. This decision was made just weeks before a presidential election that saw generalization attempts voter suppression and discriminatory voting restrictions, especially in predominantly non-white areas. Carron J. Phillips of Deadspin covered the announcement, when he went out in the middle of a national to push make Election Day a national holiday to increase the accessibility of voting for American workers.

And yet, just a year later, waivers galore on Election Day 2021, with the NCAA not only allowing sports with scheduled postseason games to forgo the new tenure, but allowing multiple football teams and Division I basketball to train. Illustrated sports reported that some of the over one hundred waivers were granted ‘conference-wide’, providing a general excuse for each sport throughout the conference to circumvent the rule, thus limiting the ability of student-athletes to find the time to go to the polls.

Although this election day saw no national races – only local races in different parts of the country – the NCAA tenure encourages schools to “offer a day each year dedicated to increasing opportunities for Division I athletes to participate in civic engagement.” These include activities such as voting or community service, among others.

Even though some schools do not take the time to vote, they are missing out on a unique opportunity for civic engagement and education for their student-athletes – a group of people who have significant public influence within their campuses and communities. Whether it’s visiting a local high or primary school to encourage younger kids to participate in democracy, volunteering on the phone lines for a day with a voting rights organization, or knocking on their doors. community to disseminate information on polling stations and voting laws, there is a lot that can be done even in a single day to have an impact. And these are just a few ideas on civic engagement – there are a multitude of ways to participate in democracy without voting.

Throughout 2020, many groups of NCAA athletes have demonstrated just that, taking it upon themselves to make statements about the racial injustices that have been protested across the country following the public death of George Floyd at the hands of a policeman. The Notre Dame football team hosted a local Juneteenth rally in the summer of 2020. Pac-12 student-athletes demanded an end to racial injustice in varsity sports as part of their movement # WeAreUnited the same year. University of Iowa players have come together to denounce a racist coach who was later taken off staff (with a million dollar buyout).

Football is the most important sport in the NCAA and is also one of the sports with the highest percentage of black student athletes. This mandate offers student-athletes an excellent opportunity to actively participate in causes they are passionate about, as well as to give their schools and athletic programs the chance to encourage, support and amplify these causes and these students. When the announcement was first published in 2020, the chairman of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, former Ball State basketball player Ethan Good, said, “By offering this day dedicated to the he civic engagement each year, we make a clear distinction that our American student-athletes will always be citizens before they are athletes. The voice of student-athletes continues to grow louder and louder every year, and we can see it through this action. “

Some student-athletes play unique leadership roles, and others may just want to take an hour of their day to vote, but NCAA athletes have demonstrated over the past year that a significant number are Interested in fighting racism and raising awareness of the issues they face on and off campus.

One of the problems with this waiver system is that Election Day does not function as a day off – instead, the schools that cooperated with the Mandate have moved what would have been practice from Tuesday to Sunday. or Monday, two days when student-athletes often withdraw from training. rest and catch up on schooling. As 2022 is a major election year for the National Congress, the waiver system may be different. Additionally, waived schools are, at some point, required to schedule a different civic engagement day off at some point in the school year.

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