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Although they won’t get as much publicity as Lebron, Derrick Rose, Kyrie Irving, and the rest of the professional athletes and celebrities donning “I Can’t Breathe” shirts, what the Hoyas did before Wednesday night’s game against Kansas was arguably more impressive. One, because they’re a group of 19 and 20 year olds conscientious enough to make that type of political statement. But, more importantly, college athletes have virtually no power. Yes, Division I athletes are on full scholarships, but those are one-year renewable. Meaning they can be revoked if a coach feels the player isn’t good enough or if they over-recruited and need some scholarships to free up. They also have the power to not allow a player to transfer schools, and to decide which schools they’re allow to transfer to if they do allow them to leave.
Also, they’re broke. There’s a difference between being surrounded by money and actually possessing money. Most college athletes have no money. And “no money” usually equates to “no power.”
This type of powerlessness might not seem like that big of an obstacle, but trust me. When you’re a broke 19-year-old Black kid whose status as a student-athletes is in the hands of his coaches and who also happens to be one of the most visible faces at a predominately White university, having the courage to use your one source of leverage — your visibility — to do this type of thing is a big fucking deal.