A group of Pac-12 football players have threatened to opt out of the season unless the conference addresses systemic inequities and concerns related to the coronavirus pandemic.
Why it matters: College football players have never had more leverage than they do right now, as the sport tries to stage a season amid the pandemic. And their willingness to use it shows we've entered a new age in college sports.
What they're saying: In a letter published by The Players' Tribune, the players demanded increased health and safety protections, a commitment to social justice and the redistribution of football revenue.
- Health and safety: Players want COVID-19 liability waivers to be prohibited and universal safety measures. They're also seeking medical insurance for six years post-eligibility.
- Social justice: They're demanding that the Pac-12 form a permanent, civic-engagement task force to address social injustice.
- Revenue redistribution: Perhaps most boldly, players asked for 50% of each sport's revenue to be evenly distributed among athletes.
The big picture: When nationwide protests erupted, college athletes were not shy about using their platform to enact change, and just last week a group of SEC football players voiced concerns similar to the Pac-12 on a private call with SEC commissioner Greg Sankey.
- Ultimately, the pandemic itself will likely dictate the state of the fall (or spring) football season more forcibly than administrators' decisions or the players' refusal to accept them.
- But among those three factors, the players' initiative stands out as the most impactful regarding the future of college sports.
The bottom line: In recent months, college athletes have shown us a newfound awareness of their power. Now, as SB Nation's Steven Godfrey puts it, "they're showing us the accompanying resolve."