Players unite in push to save college season, create union

Defensive back Michigan Reynolds of Michigan saw the tweets of Trevor Lawrence and other college football players, pressing on the opportunity to play this season, despite the pandemic.

Reynolds, one of the organizers of a Big Ten player rights movement, does not like the way some on social media liken Lawrence’s message to the efforts of #BigTenUnited and #WeAreUnited.

“There was a lot of division,” Reynolds told AP early Monday morning.

Reynolds struck up a conversation with Lawrence and star quarterback Clemson’s teammate Darien Rencher, and within hours the summer of empowerment of athletes found another gear.

Football players from all over the country united on Sunday in an attempt to save their season and ensure that they are no longer left with the biggest decisions of the sport.

Lawrence, Ohio quarterback Justin Fields, Oklahoma State All-America returns Chuba Hubbard, Alabama, and Najee Harris and several other Florida State to Oregon players run a social media chart featuring #WeWantToPlay and #WeAreUnited.

“We came to the conclusion, We Want to Play, their message might have been conveyed differently, but at the end of the day, the message was not too far from what Big Ten United wanted to promote,” Reynolds said. ‘What do we all want to sport this fall? Every athlete, I’m pretty sure, wants to play their sports. They just want to do it safely. ”

The #WeAreUnited hashtag was used a week ago by a group of Pac-12 players in announcing a move they say has the support of hundreds of peers within their conference. They have threatened massive opt-outs by players if concerns about COVID-19 protocols, racial injustice in college sports and economic rights for athletes are not addressed.

#BigTenUnited came on the scene a few days later, a move that claimed the backing off of 1000 Big Ten footballers. Their requirements were more targeted, strictly related to health and safety when dealing with COVID-19.

Sunday night led the conversation with Reynolds, Rencher and Lawrence to a Zoom meeting – of course – with some of the Pac-12 players involved in “WeAreUnited.”

Defensive lineman Washington Hobbs of Washington State had to work on a graph and now the movement is officially nationwide.

“Just started popping ideas out of each other’s heads and discussing where we’re going from here and we’re confused with that assertion,” he said. Reynolds, a senior from Southern Orange, New Jersey.

Under the logos of every Power Five conference – ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC – the players expressed their platform:

—We all want to play football this season.

—Provide universal mandated health and safety procedures and protocols to protect college athletes from COVID-19 during all NCAA-wide conferences.

—Give players the opportunity to report and respect their decision.

—Guarantee guarantee if a player chooses to play the season or not.

—Use our voices to build open communication and trust between players and officials: Finally, create a College Football Players Association.

This all happened over a weekend, during which the adults who do college sports seem to be moving to shut it all down because of the pandemic.

A day after the Mid-American Conference became the first of the major college concessions to cancel the fall season, Power Five conference commissioners met Sunday. She discusses mounting concerns about whether a season can be safely conducted with the pandemic not yet under control in the United States.

Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said no decisions have been made over the season, but acknowledged that the outlook has not improved.

‘Are we in a better place today than we were two weeks ago? No, we are not, ‘he said.

Bowlsby cited “growing evidence and the growing pool of data on myocarditis.”

Myocarditis is inflammation of the heart and it is found in some patients COVID-19. There are concerns that it may be a long-term complication of contracting the virus, even in young, healthy people, a group that has normally prevented severe cardiovascular symptoms.

Also Sunday night, the university presidents and chancellors of the Big Ten held a previously un-plend meeting, a person with knowledge of the meeting told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the meeting was not announced by the conference.

Another person with immediate knowledge of the meeting, speaking on condition of anonymity, said no votes were taken when decisions were made about the college football season.

The final call on whether important college football will be played this season rests in the hands of the university presidents who oversee the biggest conferences.

With doom and gloom hanging over college football, Lawrence, who has become the face of the sport in a summer of strife, tried to push the tide back with a series of tweets.

“People are just as much, if not more at risk, if we don’t play,” Lawrence posted. “Players will all be sent home to their own communities, where social distance is highly unlikely and medical care and expenses will be placed on the families if they contract covid19.”

Penn State tightened a Pat Freiermuth had in similar message, and the parents of Ohio State football players waited in, ek.

Reynolds wants athletes to say in the meetings that decide the fate of their sports – start now.

“All university athletes by uniting and not being afraid to speak our minds and have social media to mobilize, I think boxing on a Zoom call is something that is freely accessible,” he said. “Especially in the very near future.”


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