The college football world, including the Georgia football program, has been one massive rollercoaster ride the past weekend.
Georgia football fans have gone through a wide range of emotions in the past few days. From the elation that came with the SEC’s announcement of new conference opponents to the despair that spread across social media as rumors that the Big 10 wants to cancel the season for all the conferences circulated.
While the lives and safety of student-athletes should always be the top priority, many athletes feel that the universities are not only taking proper precautions against COVID-19 but that they are actually safer on campus than at home. So who makes the decision?
Obviously, the universities and conferences are responsible for the safety and well being of their student-athletes as much as possible. But, that’s the key phrase— as much as possible. If the proper protocols are in place, the choice should then be left to the players.
If they’re expected to decide where to go to college, represent their school in a positive light, make good decisions off the field, and decided what’s best for their future, then I’m sure they’re responsible enough to decide whether or not they want to risk playing this season. Several players have already made the decision to opt-out, citing the health of their family members or the upcoming birth of their child.
If college athletes are mature enough to decide to forgo the sport they love for the sake of their family, they’re more than capable of weighing the risk of continuing to play this fall.
And that’s exactly the point they’re making. Spearheaded by Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence, college athletes across the country have taken to social media to express their desire to play this season using the hashtag #WeWantToPlay.
While many players are simply tweeting the hashtag or a quick message, Lawrence has become the voice of the movement, pointing out the issues with a canceled season and how it will hurt the players more than continuing to play will.
Players across the country are tweeting their support from schools such as Ohio State, Oklahoma, and Florida State to South Carolina, Florida, Penn State, Ole Miss, and many more.
Georgia football’s own Monty Rice, Demetrius Robertson, Quay Walker, and Ryland Goede have also tweeted their support for the movement as have Kendall Milton’s father and Tate Ratledge’s father. Even journalists such as Barrett Sallee and Danny Kanell are expressing support for the movement and college athletes’ right to have a say in the final decision.
In a sport that’s divided by teams and conferences, college football players have come together to make their voices heard. College football doesn’t happen without the players and it’s past time for the universities and conferences to acknowledge that. If they really care about their student-athletes, then they need to listen to them and let them make the final decision on their safety.
College athletes are tired of being left out of decisions that directly impact them and their future with little to no say. Taxation without representation, anyone? Trevor Lawrence and the other players are right. College football doesn’t happen without them and they deserve a say in the future of their sport.
This is more than just a social media campaign for sports. They’re fighting for their voices to be heard. They’re fighting for players to have the right to choose. They’re fighting for the people over the institution. And really, is there anything more American than that? Besides football of course.