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Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

A group of Pac-12 football players have threatened to opt out of the season unless the conference addresses systemic inequities and concerns related to the coronavirus pandemic.

Why it matters: College football players have never had more leverage than they do right now, as the sport tries to stage a season amid the pandemic. And their willingness to use it shows we've entered a new age in college sports.

What they're saying: In a letter published by The Players' Tribune, the players demanded increased health and safety protections, a commitment to social justice and the redistribution of football revenue.

  • Health and safety: Players want COVID-19 liability waivers to be prohibited and universal safety measures. They're also seeking medical insurance for six years post-eligibility.
  • Social justice: They're demanding that the Pac-12 form a permanent, civic-engagement task force to address social injustice.
  • Revenue redistribution: Perhaps most boldly, players asked for 50% of each sport's revenue to be evenly distributed among athletes.

The big picture: When nationwide protests erupted, college athletes were not shy about using their platform to enact change, and just last week a group of SEC football players voiced concerns similar to the Pac-12 on a private call with SEC commissioner Greg Sankey.

  • Ultimately, the pandemic itself will likely dictate the state of the fall (or spring) football season more forcibly than administrators' decisions or the players' refusal to accept them.
  • But among those three factors, the players' initiative stands out as the most impactful regarding the future of college sports.

The bottom line: In recent months, college athletes have shown us a newfound awareness of their power. Now, as SB Nation's Steven Godfrey puts it, "they're showing us the accompanying resolve."

Go deeper

Kendall Baker, author of Sports
Nov 3, 2020 - Sports

How the election could change sports

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The outcome of the 2020 election will greatly impact the sports world. And through its efforts to increase voter turnout, the sports world could greatly impact the outcome of the 2020 election.

Where it stands: College sports are off. The NCAA is requiring that all Division I programs give their student athletes the day off from sports today, an idea that was first introduced in June by Georgia Tech assistant basketball coach Eric Reveno.

Nov 4, 2020 - Sports

NFL steps up coronavirus protocols with new mask requirements

A view as the Baltimore Ravens play against the Washington Football Team at FedExField in October in Landover, Md. Photo: Patrick Smith/Getty Images

The NFL sent a memo to teams on Tuesday alerting them to stepped-up precautions against COVID-19, including on face masks and social distancing, the NFL Network first reported.

The big picture: As coronavirus cases surge across the U.S., the Baltimore Ravens placed seven defensive players on the reserve/COVID-19 list Tuesday following cornerback Marlon Humphrey's positive test. Under the new protocols, the NFL will require masks be worn during physical interactions postgame and is advising teams to ask players to wear face coverings on the sidelines and in locker rooms.

Go deeper: Most NFL games had fans this week

Biden signs racial equity executive orders

Joe Biden prays at Grace Lutheran Church in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on September 3, 2020, in the aftermath of the police shooting of Jacob Blake. PHOTO: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

President Joe Biden on Tuesday signed executive orders on housing and ending the Justice Department's use of private prisons as part of what the White House is calling his “racial equity agenda.”

The big picture: Biden needs the support of Congress to push through police reform or new voting rights legislation. The executive orders serve as his down payment to immediately address systemic racism while he focuses on the pandemic.