TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (seminoles.com) – There are more than 460,000 NCAA Division I, II and III student-athletes, with most of them falling into an age demographic that votes the least of any in America. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, only 46 percent of eligible voters between the ages of 18 and 29 voted in the 2016 election.
Florida State Basketball Coach Leonard Hamilton is optimistic that percentage can increase this year. With Hamilton’s encouragement, all 18 eligible players on Florida State’s roster will have their voices heard as registered voters in the upcoming election on November 3..
“We work on educating our players constantly on the challenges they face in their everyday lives,” said Hamilton. “I’m very proud of the ways in which our players accept their social responsibilities and am happy they have decided to put their efforts into this movement. Allowing their voices to be heard by voting in local, state and national elections is important beyond the classroom and the basketball court; voting is important to the way we live our lives.
“We are encouraging every Seminole at Florida State to exercise their constitutional right to vote in the upcoming and future elections. College students have proven that they have a tremendous impact on the future of the country by using their voices, and we hope they get out and show their Seminole spirit along with all of the student-athletes at Florida State on November 3.”
According to Florida State’s Director of Athletics David Coburn: “It is imperative that our student-athletes exercise their constitutional right to vote. Our athletics department is committed to ensuring student-athletes are able to make informed decision at their particular polling sites in November. We are hosting a non-partisan voter education program via Zoom on Monday, October 5th entitled: “Nole Your Rights” to ensure are students are equipped and prepared.”
Inspired to act by racial injustice that has plagued the country, there has been an increased emphasis on college campuses to get student-athletes to exercise their right to vote. Nationally, programs have held voter registration drives, and multiple schools have announced they will not hold mandatory team activities on Election Day.
“My teammates and I want our voices to be heard,” said senior M.J. Walker. “We are all responsible citizens and voting is one of the many important ways we can collectively and individually have a say. As student-athletes we have a voice. With the voice comes a desire and a responsibility to be heard. Registering to vote and utilizing our right to vote is one way we can be heard loud and clear about the choices we are making.”
In response to the wave of social activism that has swept across the nation recently, the NCAA’s Board of Governors in June encouraged all schools to give student-athletes the day off on Election Day.
“President Mark Emmert and the NCAA Board of Governors recognize the important role social engagement has on driving positive societal change,” said the NCAA Board of Governors. “The demonstrations following the tragic killing of George Floyd showed the world the power of protest and student-athletes across the country were at the center of that movement. We encourage students to continue to make their voices heard on these important issues, engage in community activism and exercise their Constitutional rights. We encourage all member schools to assist students in registering to vote in the upcoming national election so student-athletes can vote and participate in their ultimate responsibility as citizens.”