TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — On top of everything that the year 2020 has thrown our way, we are now only just a week away from the presidential election.
Maybe now more than ever before, athletes are using their voice and platform for change, and a couple University of Alabama football players shared their excitement to vote with reporters via Zoom on Tuesday.
"This is my first year registering to vote, so I'm excited," Crimson Tide defensive back Jordan Battle said on Tuesday via Zoom to reporters. "I'm happy with what we did around here getting players registered to vote and allowing our voices to be heard this year, so we're looking forward to that."
Back in September, the Southeastern Conference formed its Voter Education and Participation Program and its goal is to get members of every institution engaged in the general election and other state and local elections.
The NCAA Division 1 Council has mandated that next Tuesday, Nov. 3, be an off day for student-athletes from all athletic activity. Athletic departments nationwide have provided educational sessions, resources, and access to students, coaches, faculty on the importance of going out and voting.
"We all understand and Coach [Nick] Saban emphasizes that voting is important," Alabama wide receiver Slade Bolden said. "No matter what your political views are it’s important to get your view out there and what you believe, who should be what. He’s made it important for us to go out there and vote, and I will hopefully be attending to vote as well."
After one of the practices during fall camp, Crimson Tide players were able to get registered to vote. In that same week, the team held a rally for social-justice change led by coach Nick Saban in wake of police shootings across the country.
"Alabama Athletics’ Civic Engagement Initiative is something that we’re trying to continue to create awareness on how important it is or everyone to vote," Saban said last month. "I’ve been very proud of our players and their response to register to vote, be prepared and educated on how they can vote absentee. So I’ve been very pleased with that."
Saban also noted then that he will not, or never, endorse a specific candidate. He reiterated last week the emphasis for all people to get out and vote, given all that has happened over the course of the past year.
"Well first of all, I've always voted," Saban said during the weekly SEC coaches teleconference. "But I usually absentee vote since it always comes up during the season. I think it's very important for people to vote. I think a lot of the things that have happened over the last 6-8 months have brought people's attention toward the importance of expressing themselves by the way that they vote. We have done a drive here to get our players registered to vote. We have a setup for them to absentee vote. So even though they're going to be off on Tuesday to vote, if they want to go ahead and get it done, they can do it.
"I think we've organized that extremely well for them."