Douglas: Trevor Lawrence makes some important points

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Zane Douglas

Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence took to Twitter on Sunday to talk about why the NCAA football season should happen. While the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) — the conference Clemson resides in — decided to play, the Big Ten, Pac-12 and numerous smaller conferences announced an end to their fall sports.

Lawrence, a Heisman Award favorite and probable top 10 NFL Draft pick in 2021, called football a safe haven for many players and went as far as to say the virus would be spread more if football players stayed home because it took away their incentive to practice safe virus prevention methods.

This is where Lawrence loses me, because I don’t know if college football players were, for some reason, not following any safety protocols at home, but we haven’t gotten to his most important post yet.

This tweet starts off like it’s just about the pandemic and how they can make the season safe, but it ends with Lawrence calling for the NCAA to allow for a players association to be created within the NCAA. Regardless of whether I think playing is a good idea, what Lawrence says at the end of his tweet is an excellent idea.

Lawrence doesn’t speak for the whole NCAA, but the NCAA has blatantly mishandled its players historically because it can’t allow for them to be thought of as workers instead of as students.

Lawrence is suggesting the NCAA allow for a college football players association — an idea that would take away a ton of the NCAA’s power over student-athletes.

This is a great and necessary idea.

Now I know, Lawrence doesn’t speak for every NCAA player and a lot of his message was persuaded by pandemic response instead of actually starting a union, but I’m attempting to take his words and run with them.

Amateurism and what to do about it has been a big problem in the NCAA, but the simple truth is student-athletes are workers and this is a job they are a part of. For that reason, they at least deserve benefits and, as the pandemic has shown us, they are left vulnerable if something catastrophic happens.

Whether payment is necessary or not is the issue at hand here and it’s dangerous to give large universities that simply have to care about the financial side of things, full power over their student-athletes. This is why there needs to be a player’s association as Lawrence stated.

Sticking with the pandemic, there were no players in the room helping to decide whether they would play or not, but in Major League Baseball for instance, there would be no season at all if the players weren’t on board.

If the safety protocols aren’t met, then many student-athletes could be affected by COVID-19, but it ultimately came down to people who wouldn’t be directly affected by the start of college football.

You could go the other way and say the Big Ten and Pac-12 made a decision many players might not have agreed with.

A player’s association does so much more than just decide whether to play, but its main focus is to give rights and a voice to people in a job that contributes to a much larger industry.

The NCAA can afford to compromise with its athletes, but it hasn’t yet given them that voice, because it can still slap on the title of “amateur.”

Amateur is a word that means not professional, but for student-athletes, amateurism is a full-time job.