McDaniel: Will we see player strikes on the NCAA level?

Brock Purdy runs the ball during the Iowa State vs. Oklahoma State football game Oct. 26. The Cyclones lost 34-27.

Stephen Mcdaniel

I think it goes without saying that the past couple months have been some of the craziest times throughout the history of sports.

We’ve seen some of the biggest professional sporting leagues in the world all shut down their seasons due to a global health pandemic, only to return with teams being placed in bubbles with strict guidelines to avoid COVID-19.

We’ve also seen that same health pandemic nearly shut down collegiate sports. All spring championships in 2020 were canceled and we’re currently seeing how fall sports are going to shake out.

One of the biggest sports that still remains in question is football, where we’ve seen the Big Ten and Pac-12 cancel their seasons and we’ve seen the Big 12, Southeastern Conference and Atlantic Coast Conference all decide to move on with their football seasons.

One thing we saw before college sports made a decision to move on or cancel upcoming seasons was how professional athletes responded to their respective seasons being restarted.

When we saw leagues like the NBA, MLB, NHL and WNBA all return, some athletes were quick to make the decision to announce they would be opting out of playing with concerns still relating to COVID-19, even with the bubbles being placed for each league.

So it’s not surprising to see the question of players opting out for college sports come up, but with some uncertainty due to questions surrounding if athletes would retain eligibility.

But now we’re starting to see another big event taking place in the world of sports. While we’ve seen high-profiled athletes speaking out on Black Lives Matter, we’re starting to see another chapter being written in the fight for equality.

Professional leagues are starting to see players and teams boycotting their seasons in the fight for racial justice. Games in the NBA, WNBA, MLB and NHL, as well as team practices in the NFL, have been canceled in recent days due to players opting to boycott after the most recent incident in Kenosha, Wisconsin, where police shot Jacob Blake seven times in the back.

But to bring this back to college sports, college athletes haven’t been shy about speaking out for what they believe in over social media. You can see this with the push from football players, coaches and athletic directors speaking out about how their seasons got canceled and how they wanted to play.

NCAA President Mark Emmert even spoke out on the topic of racial and social justice and in his message that was posted onto social media, he mentions, “Peaceful protest is a powerful tool to drive social change and we fully support student-athletes’ rights to be heard.”

I think if the NCAA continues to show support of student-athletes speaking out, then we might start to see those collegiate athletes following suit and boycotting their respective seasons, even if there was just a push for their seasons to come back.

Now I feel this also comes with a major asterisk. We’ve already seen the talk with the major professional leagues, and I’m just going to use the NBA for this, as to the implications of losing out on their seasons and playoffs.

The Lakers and Clippers appear to be voting to continue to boycott games until there is change, which is something that’s being led by one of the biggest, if not the biggest, athlete in the world: LeBron James.

Even though it sounds like the NBA playoffs will be returning, there would have been a huge financial impact if the NBA lost out on the playoffs and potentially next season, since there were rumors of a potential lockout for the 2021 season.

This is what makes me hesitant to fully say we will see college players boycotting the season. I don’t know if the NCAA would want to risk fully losing out on all of its fall sports with players opting out of playing in support of racial and social justice.

I think when you look at it, we’ve seen the domino pieces at the top by the top-tiered leagues start to fall and we’ve seen that cause a chain reaction where the rest of the dominoes start to fall down at the collegiate level.

In my eyes, the first domino piece at the top has fallen and it’s really only a matter of time until the rest of the pieces fall from the chain reaction.