BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — While the sports world is still rather quiet since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic due to sports being postponed, the athletes themselves have been loud. Swapping sports equipment for microphones.
“We just need to look into this time just to regain some strength in our mental state of being,” Fresno State reciever Chris Coleman said.
Former Garces Ram and current Fresno State football player Chris Coleman is one of many athletes using his voice on issues important to him.
And with uncertainty still looming about a widespread return of college athletics, it’s created a space for college athletes to speak up. We first saw this take place across college football as athletes from the power five conferences took steps to forge unity among conferences.
With movements like ‘we are united’ and ‘we want to play’.
“Just keep growing the platform and get actual change rather than saying, or instantly is looking into this or associates or looking into this we get incidentally has decided such and such which ends up, hopefully working into our favor. We get things that actually change,” Coleman said.
Football players who compete in a Power Five conference focused their voices on requesting unified safety protocols before returning to play and called on the NCAA to protect the equal rights of its players, especially Black athletes.
“Us as players, we do have a voice and we're finally using it, not only for black players but for all of us in the game," Washington defensive back Cameron Williams said. “What we are coming to say is that we want change now which I don’t think will happen. But we are rolling the ball, trying to get started for future players.”
“We have a right, and we have a voice to speak upon something especially in this horrible times that, like, if we need to say something that we're able to speak up without any penalty coming upon us and that's the whole big move with the whole unity, like all the players that play a sport female and male," UCLA linebacker Carl Jones said.
Meanwhile, a league like the WNBA has been a leading voice in chasing equality for many years and ahead of its return this year. The league dedicated the season to honoring the lives of women who have been killed by police violence.
“Now I'm learning about women that I've never heard of, because just because of this, what society has gone through you know different women have been murdered because of police brutality and through that more emotions, more anger more sadness but if anything, it's helping us push forward to the goal that we want to accomplish in for people to learn these people's names to learn their lives have they left the legacies that they left,” Minnesota Lynx Forward Erica McCall said.
McCall, playing in her fourth season in the WNBA, recognizes the power of the voices within her league.
“Very eye opening to see how much that we can shake things up in this world and how we can bring awareness to these amazing women's lives that have been lost. And so with that, I'm more empowered than ever. And I'm so glad to be proud of this week, 444 strong and courageous women, and it just beautiful to be a part of,” McCall said.
From searching for unity at the college level to professional leagues taking a stand on racial injustice. Athletes from all ages, backgrounds and sports are not only finding a voice this year but making sure to use it.
Reminding all of us that they don't have to always stick to sports.