Starting on Saturday evening, a number of college football players began tweeting about their desire to play college football this season and how some of them felt safe at their respective programs.
Among those players using their voice were some of the biggest in the sport, including Trevor Lawrence and Penn State tight end Pat Freiermuth.
I don’t know about y’all, but we want to play.
— Trevor Lawrence (@Trevorlawrencee) August 8, 2020
Since day one coming back to campus the Penn State Football staff and medical experts have put our health and safety first, above anything else. The guidelines put into place keep us safe while playing the game we love. We are ready to play and we want to play.
— Pat Freiermuth (@pat_fry5) August 9, 2020
By Sunday night, many more players had joined on the discussion, with the hashtag #WeWantToPlay being the No. 1 trending topic in Twitter in the United States.
Earlier in the day, Lawrence had a thread on Twitter that explained some of his thoughts and feelings on the matter.
People are at just as much, if not more risk, if we don’t play. Players will all be sent home to their own communities where social distancing is highly unlikely and medical care and expenses will be placed on the families if they were to contract covid19 (1)
— Trevor Lawrence (@Trevorlawrencee) August 9, 2020
Not to mention the players coming from situations that are not good for them/ their future and having to go back to that. Football is a safe haven for so many people. We are more likely to get the virus in everyday life than playing football. Having a season also incentivizes –
— Trevor Lawrence (@Trevorlawrencee) August 9, 2020
Then shortly after midnight ET, Lawrence and others announced that some of the top players in the country from all conferences had come together to form the #WeWantToPlay movement, morphing with the PAC-12’s #WeAreUnited movement that had been launched earlier in August.
Players like Ohio State’s Justin Fields, Alabama’s Najee Harris and Oklahoma State’s Chubba Hubbard also tweeted the same message that Lawrence had.
— Chuba Hubbard (@Hubbard_RMN) August 10, 2020
— Spencer Rattler (@SpencerRattler) August 10, 2020
— Najee Harris (@ohthatsNajee22) August 10, 2020
— King (@DeriqKing_) August 10, 2020
— Justin Fields (@justnfields) August 10, 2020
The graphic states the following:
- “We all want to play football this season”
- “Establish universal mandated health &safety procedures and protocols to protect college-athletes against COVID-19 among all conferences throughout the NCAA
- Give players the opportunity to protect college-athletes against COVID-19
- Guarantee eligibility whether a player chooses to play this season or not
- Use our voices to establish open communication & trust between players and officials: ultimately create a College Football Players Association
- Representative of all Power 5 conferences
ESPN’s Dan Murphy detailed how so many of the prominent players in the sports were able to get together on the matter. The players didn’t want the #WeWantToPlay movement to overshadow what the players in the PAC-12 were trying to do with regards to better rights and benefits for playing the sport.
“We got down to talking and agreed that both of our goals are aligned with each other,” Stanford defensive lineman Dylan Boles told Murphy. “We all want to play this year. We just want to make sure players have a say in this thing.”
The PAC-12 players had a meeting with PAC-12 commissioner Larry Scott on Thursday, but the players were not happy with what transpired according to a report from ESPN’s Kyle Bonagura.
“We were all left disappointed and deeply concerned that you are not taking this matter seriously,” a letter to Scott sent late Friday, signed by 18 student-athletes, said.
Players aren’t the only ones getting in on the movement, with multiple coaches at Michigan starting their own hashtag, #WeWantToCoach.
— Bob Shoop (@CoachBobShoop) August 10, 2020
Our medical protocol is the standard. The environment we provide is the safest environment physically, mentally, and emotionally for our players! We don’t just coach, We sacrifice, We raise, We protect, and We serve for these young men opportunities of their life! https://t.co/RabBhYJfO8
— Josh Gattis (@Coach_Gattis) August 10, 2020
Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh also released a statement making it very clear that he wants there to be a college football season, even with reports that the Big Ten has in fact canceled the 2020 season, according to the Detroit Free Press.
Statement from Jim Harbaugh. pic.twitter.com/CftMW7d5lC
— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) August 10, 2020
There has been a somewhat recent attempt to unionize in college football, as a group of Northwestern players attempted to do so in 2014, though they were unsuccessful.
Alicia Jessop, a sports law professor at Pepperdine University outlined why forming an actual union would be unlikely and brought up the 2014 Northwestern case as precedent. In addition to that prior case, the National Labor Relations Act — which allows private employees the right to form a union — applies to only private employees and thus potentially only private schools. Public school athletes, such as those at the University of Georgia, would not have those same rights. And as currently constituted, the NCAA does not recognize student-athletes as employees either.
As college football players across the U.S. have suddenly banded together in the #WeWantToPlay movement, those calling for widespread unionization of the group must understand that the law governing unionization in the U.S. makes that unlikely. 1/
— Alicia Jessop (@RulingSports) August 10, 2020
Even President Donald Trump weighed in on the matter, voicing his support of Lawrence and the movement.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 10, 2020
It is worth noting at this point that while a number of Georgia players have tweeted support of playing as well as some of Lawrence’s earlier messages, none have tweeted out the graphic that Lawrence, Fields and other college football players put out.
— Quay (@QuayWalker_) August 10, 2020
Let’s play safely !! But those ‘in charge’ quit with the back and forth !!!
— Monty Rice (@RiceMonty) August 10, 2020
— Demetris Robertson (@d_rob4) August 8, 2020
We understand the risks. We have worked too hard. #WeWantToPlay
— Prather Hudson (@PRAYHUD) August 10, 2020
— Ryland Goede (@rylandgoede10) August 10, 2020
No Georgia coaches have weighed on the state of college football either at the moment, with many of the recent tweets from the staff are with regards to the Bulldogs landing a commitment from 4-star tight end Brock Bowers.
Georgia and the rest of the SEC schools are still to begin fall practices on Aug. 17. The SEC has scheduled its first game for Sept. 26 at the moment. According to a report from Sports Illustrated’s Ross Dellenger, SEC athletic directors and school presidents are meeting on Monday, though a vote on the season is not expected.
More Georgia football stories from around DawgNation
- SEC commissioner Greg Sankey reveals league stance amid uncertain times
- REPORTS: SEC recruiting ACC, Big 12 to continue seasons, Florida governor supports playing
- College football season crisis: Commissioners meet, players organize
- How we got from a schedule announcement to college football players attempting to unionize in one weekend
- Mark Richt, DJ Shockley defend South Carolina assistant Mike Bobo amid allegations of racial insensitivity
- What the other Power Five schedules tell us about what the SEC schedule might look like
- DN90: Expectations rise for UGA ‘wrecking ball’ Jordan Davis
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- WATCH: SEC football schedule triggers perception vs. reality fallout