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UCLA launches a voter education and registration initiative for student-athletes

The UCLA athletic department introduced a Voting Matters Initiative on Tuesday.
The UCLA athletic department introduced a Voting Matters Initiative on Tuesday, focusing on voter education and registration among student-athletes.
(Twitter / @UCLAAthletics)

The UCLA football team united to address police brutality and racism in a Twitter video last Thursday in the wake of George Floyd’s death. As protests swept the country, the 54-second video that featured 48 players and coaches came with a simple caption.

“It’s time for change,” the tweet read.

Now, UCLA athletics hopes to make a change at the ballot box. The department launched a Voting Matters Initiative on Tuesday, focusing on voter education and registration among student-athletes. Head coaches have agreed to dedicate time for voting education sessions for each of the school’s 25 NCAA-sanctioned sports. All sessions must be completed by Sept. 25 prior to voter registration deadlines for this year’s Nov. 3 general election.

“The events in this country over the past two weeks have motivated many people, including a number of our student-athletes, to use their voices,” incoming athletic director Martin Jarmond said in a statement. “As an athletic department, now is the time for us to take action, to demonstrate national leadership and to signal to our student-athletes that voting matters.”

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After Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, died in May after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed a knee to his neck, protesters filled streets in every state calling out racism and addressing the need for police reform. All four officers involved in the incident have been charged.

UCLA football players and coaches take part in a video calling for change following the death of George Floyd.

Several other college teams have mobilized around voting in response to the protests. More than 60 members of the Missouri football team registered to vote last week after participating in a protest. Florida State defensive lineman Marvin Wilson, a team captain, announced on Instagram that everyone on his team will register to vote.

Georgia Tech assistant men’s basketball coach Eric Reveno began a social media movement to urge the NCAA to make election day a mandatory holiday to give the nation’s 460,000 student-athletes an opportunity to vote. Nine Georgia Tech teams, including the football team that would be in the middle of its season, announced they would not hold athletic events on Tuesday, Nov. 3, to promote voting.


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