#WeAreUnited: Pac-12 football players threaten boycott over COVID-19, racial injustice

A group of Pac-12 football players issued a series of demands to conference leaders Sunday via a joint letter, titled “#WeAreUnited,” that focused primarily on safety protocols amid the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic.

In addition to COVID-19-centric safety precautions, the players representing multiple Pac-12 schools also requested medical insurance be provided for six years after eligibility ends, a “permanent civic engagement task force to address social injustice issues” and for the league to disburse half of each sport’s total conference revenue evenly among athletes in their respective sports, ESPN reported.

According to the Los Angeles Times, some of the players have expressed willingness to sit out practices and games if their demands are not met.

The virus has already prompted Pac-12 officials to delay the start of the 2020 football season, shorten its duration to only 10 games beginning Sept. 26, the Times reported.

The letter, published in The Players’ Tribune, is signed by a host of Pac-12 players from multiple schools and adopted the #WeAreUnited hashtag to embody the group’s concerns, stating, “Because NCAA sports exploit college athletes physically, economically and academically, and also disproportionately harm Black college athletes, #WeAreUnited.”

The letter also states that the group wants the conference to funnel 2% of Pac-12 revenue to support financial aid for low-income Black students, community initiatives and development programs for college athletes on campus, ESPN reported.

“They see all of this clearly through the lens of racial justice,” Ramogi Huma, the founder of a college athlete advocacy group called the National Collegiate Players Association, told the sports news network.

The movement, which now totals hundreds of players, began among a handful of players a little more than one month ago via Zoom calls connecting different campuses and then spread organically among teammates, ESPN reported.

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