Trevor Lawrence sparks united #WeWantToPlay movement

The 2020 college football season appears to be crumbling before our eyes amid the coronavirus pandemic. Power Five conference commissioners held a meeting Sunday to address the viability of playing football in the fall, and there will be another meeting Monday, CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd reported. Some Power Five conferences appear to be leaning toward not playing this fall, perhaps with the hopes of postponing the season until the spring.

That led some of college football‘s biggest stars to speak up Sunday in an effort to save the season, channeling the NFL players’ #WeWantToPlay movement. Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence explained his position in a three-post Twitter thread that kicked off a round of tweets from other stars following in his footsteps. 

By midnight, #WeWantToPlay joined with #WeAreUnited in a call to not only play college football in the fall but do so safely while ultimately creating a college football players association. The demands of the joint effort aren’t numerous in length, but the push to create a college football players’ association representing the power conferences is massive. 

“People are at just as much, if not more risk, if we don’t play,” the junior signal-caller wrote earlier Sunday. “Players will all be sent home to their own communities where social distancing is highly unlikely and medical care and expenses will be placed on the families if they were to contract COVID-19. Not to mention the players coming from situations that are not good for them/ their future and having to go back to that. Football is a safe haven for so many people.

“We are more likely to get the virus in everyday life than playing football. Having a season also incentivizes players being safe and taking all of the right precautions to try to avoid contracting covid because the season/ teammates safety is on the line. Without the season, as we’ve seen already, people will not social distance or wear masks and take the proper precautions.”

As one of the sport’s most recognizable names, Lawrence may be the unofficial face of the movement. However, more than a dozen players with representatives from all Power Five conferences had a part in its creation. Per ESPN’s Dan Murphy, a direct message between Clemson running back Darien Rencher and Stanford defensive lineman Dylan Boles at 5:30 p.m. PT Sunday was the starting point in the dialogue. Soon thereafter, a Zoom call featuring Alabama running back Najee Harris, Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields, Oklahoma State running back Chuba Hubbard and Oregon lineman Penei Sewell, among others, was organized. The players spoke for about 30 minutes before agreeing on the points listed on the #WeAreUnited x #WeWantToPlay graphic, including “universal support” for a players’ association for all college athletes. 

The sudden, late-night development was, as Boles told ESPN, the “crown jewel” of what players from all over the country had been demanding over the last couple of months. Fields and other college football players began issuing the same statement in a midnight tweetstorm that trended No. 1 in the United States.

How the power conferences respond to #WeWantToPlay remains to be seen, though Arkansas athletic director Hunter Yuracheck has tweeted his support for it. The Big Ten is considered to be the conference that may start the domino effect among the Power Five leagues of postponing or otherwise canceling the season. But that has received pushback from players and their parents who aren’t exactly thrilled about that idea. Dr. Corey Teague, father of Ohio State star running back Master Teague, tweeted a letter on behalf of the Football Parents Association at Ohio State (FPAOS). 

“As parents, we strongly believe. our sons want to play the upcoming season and have the full trust of the university and coaching staff long with medical experts have found a safe way for that to occur,” the letter said. “We believe that this age group represents some of the healthiest individuals, while we recognize the risk can’t be eliminated, we believe the risk is minimal and the season can safely and responsibly occur.”

Players from the Big Ten and Pac-12 have already formed groups to demand reforms to benefit the health, well-being and financial stability of student-athletes. That is just the latest item in a offseason that has shown players that they have the ability to enact change and make their voices heard on a variety of issues. If they’re successful, the members of the #WeWantToPlay movement could be seen as the people who saved the college football season.

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