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Should Athletic Departments Advance Campaigns to Promote Injustices?

Published on December 1 , 2020 at 5:50 p.m.
by Kendal Lambert.

Student-athletes around the country are speaking out against social and political injustices now more than ever. Since they are students under the control of athletic departments, I raise the question: Should athletic departments advance campaigns to promote injustices, or should the student-athletes have their own opinions?

There are many pros to letting student-athletes use their platforms to release messages they feel passionate about.

Letting student-athletes speak for themselves allows them to create unique personal brands.

With the name, image and likeness rules changing per the NCAA, student-athletes are putting more effort into their social media. They are now becoming their own publicists and marketing themselves to their publics.

Photo by Andrew Gearhart on Unsplash

One in five student-athletes use some form of social media. Fans will now follow their favorite player’s social media accounts more closely than the player’s team as a whole.

A couple of athletes making a difference on their own accord are as follows:

Kylin Hill
Hill, a running back for Mississippi State University, pushed for the state of Mississippi flag to be changed. Many individuals, including Hill, lobbied for the change because the flag incorporated a version of the confederate flag. He tweeted, “Either change the flag, or I won’t be representing this State anymore 💯 & I meant that .. I’m tired.” Athletes and coaches around the state agreed and supported the changing of the state flag.

The flag has now been changed.

Ashlyn Dunbar
Dunbar, a two-sport athlete at Oklahoma, took to Twitter to tell fans how she felt. She wrote, “If you don’t support me here, then do NOT and I can’t stress this enough…support me here.” The tweet included two pictures side by side, one of Dunbar at a protest holding a sign that displayed, “Human rights are NOT a matter of opinion!” and the other of her on the volleyball court.

The tweet got over 40,000 likes.

Athletic departments
If a university takes the route of letting the athletic department control the message, it will in some ways make the athlete’s voice louder, but also smaller.

I believe that under the guidance of the school, student-athletes will be given resources to help them expand their knowledge of issues that are being faced around the country. Learning is always a good thing, but is this forcing the athletes to not have their own opinions?

For example, if an athletic department wants to educate its players on the Black Lives Matter movement, that is great, but let’s look at the statistics. According to the NCAA, both head coaches and athletic directors in the NCAA are 85% white. How can they educate their players about something that they have never experienced?

I would suggest outside resources be used to help the schools better inform their players on injustices and important issues that individuals face every day.

There needs to be a balance of both the student-athletes’ opinions and the athletic departments’ opinions. An athletic department needs to show support for its athletes while also speaking out against injustices.

When the two come together, great things can happen.

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