At their core, every athletic department has the privilege and responsibility to develop young men and women well beyond athletic ability. The goal is to create leaders, role models, and ambassadors for your program and university. You want your athletes to leave not only with an education but with a broadened worldview and sense of civic responsibility. That is why November 8th is such an important teaching moment.
Encourage your athletes to vote.
Ask them when they plan to head to the polls. Help them find their polling station. If need be, alter practice schedules to ensure they have enough time to cast their ballot. Most importantly, talk to them about why voting is important.
Most importantly, talk to them about why voting is important. And that may be a tough task. There will be student-athletes who disagree with you politically. There will be some who just have a jaded view of the entire process. There will be plenty who want to vote for a candidate who has no chance of winning in their state.
A truly representative democracy only works if everyone votes based on their self-interest. Even in a losing effort, you should make your voice heard because you never know the outcome until the ballots are all counted. Otherwise, why bother with the election at all.
Remind them that this election isn’t just about the next president. There are more than likely numerous local and state ballot initiative that will likely have a greater impact on the lives of your student-athletes and your university than any president will.
You don’t have to go as far as Coastal Carolina head football coach Joe Moglia and take your entire team to vote together. Unless you were planning a team outing like this well ahead of time, you more than likely will have plenty of student-athletes who didn’t even register in time. Speak to them all none-the-less. Make sure they know that in the United States of America, they have something billions of people have literally died for.
They have a voice. Don’t waste it.
Matthew Monte is Managing Editor of College AD and formerly Co-Managing Editor of Underdog Dynasty. He is a graduate of The B.I. Moody III College of Business Administration at UL Lafayette, mostly because it didn't require a foreign language. Matt is also a recovering stand up comedian who occasionally relapses.