College athletes get a win with Election Day off every year, effort led by local NBA champ Chris Bosh
In a historic win for college athletes and voter advocates, led by former NBA champion and Austinite Chris Bosh, the NCAA voted this week to require an annual November Election Day "off day" for Division 1 student athletes to vote or volunteer in election activities if they choose.
The "Civil Engagement" resolution, approved this week, gives these athletes the day off of training, practices and games on the first Tuesday following Nov. 1 each year. The new rule starts with this year's Nov. 3 election.
"Division I student-athletes will not practice and compete, among other countable athletically related activities, on the first Tuesday after Nov. 1 every year, including the upcoming Election Day on Nov. 3," the NCAA announced on its Twitter feed.
University of Texas-Austin Head Men's Basketball Coach Shaka Smart applauded the resolution's passage.
"Many of our greatest patriots fought for the right to vote for all, and it's important that we provide maximum flexibility for student-athletes to exercise their right, as we should for all Americans," he said in a statement to Austonia. "UT has done a great job providing resources to enable student-athletes to register to vote and now, on Election Day, they'll definitely have the time to do so."
Pushing for the resolution, Bosh took to The Players Tribune to write to colleges around the country and to the NCAA, making the case for student-athletes to have Election Day off—not just this year, but every year, so students could be given the chance to vote as well as volunteer in the communities they live in.
Bosh's editorial, titled "Let them vote," described a time when his parents took him to Selma, Alabama where civil-rights leaders marched for equal rights and social justice, "all so people like me, and my children, and my children's children would have the opportunity to vote in elections."
The schedule of a student-athlete, Bosh wrote, is a topic that many fans are quick to brush off. The schedule for the majority of student-athletes consist of hours of weight training, film study and practice—on top of the hours of classes and study sessions.
"You're basically working two full-time jobs. And with respect to both of them, you're being held to the highest of standards," he wrote. "There's no margin for error. It's not like you can just be like, 'Hey Coach, you know what? I'd love to join you guys at this practice … but I gotta run out and vote for the county commissioner right now.'"
The point Bosh makes in the piece is one that many politicians and election advocates have been making for some time. Former democratic candidate Andrew Yang made headlines by pushing for Election Day to be a national holiday, which he said would give lower-income people a chance to make their voice heard.
Division I student-athletes will not practice and compete, among other countable athletically related activities, o… https://t.co/csbq4IgyGV— NCAA (@NCAA) 1600294976.0
The former Miami Heat player received praise and support for his part in the historic win on social media with the hashtag #MakeHistoryWithAVote.
College student-athletes across the country are motivated to have their voices heard in this year's election and ar… https://t.co/htQQ5z8yVG— Miami HEAT (@Miami HEAT) 1600273247.0
Yesssssssssss!!! https://t.co/edKKRw0LkO— Gabrielle Union (@Gabrielle Union) 1600306519.0
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The Texas Senate Democratic Caucus is urging Gov. Greg Abbott to call an emergency special legislative session to consider a variety of gun restrictions and safety measures in the wake of a mass school shooting in Uvalde that left 19 children and two adults dead this week.
In a letter released Saturday morning, all 13 Senate Democrats demanded lawmakers pass legislation that raises the minimum age to purchase a firearm from 18 to 21 years old. The Uvalde gunman was 18 and had purchased two AR-style rifles which he used in the attack.
The caucus is also calling for universal background checks for all firearm sales, “red flag” laws that allow a judge to temporarily remove firearms from people who are considered an imminent threat to themselves or others, a “cooling off period” for the purchase of a firearm and regulations on high capacity magazines for citizens.
“Texas has suffered more mass shootings over the past decade than any other state. In Sutherland Springs, 26 people died. At Santa Fe High School outside Houston, 10 people died. In El Paso, 23 people died at a Walmart. Seven people died in Midland-Odessa,” the letter reads. “After each of these mass killings, you have held press conferences and roundtables promising things would change. After the slaughter of 19 children and two teachers in Uvalde, those broken promises have never rung more hollow. The time to take real action is now.”
Such laws are unlikely to gain traction in the Republican-controlled Legislature, which has a track record of favoring legislation that loosens gun restrictions. Only the governor has the power to call lawmakers back into a special session for emergency work.
Asked about a special session at a Friday press conference in Uvalde, Abbott said “all options are on the table” adding that he believed laws would ultimately be passed to address this week’s horrors. However, he suggested laws would be more tailored toward addressing mental health, rather than gun control.
“You can expect robust discussion and my hope is laws are passed, that I will sign, addressing health care in this state,” he said, “That status quo is unacceptable. This crime is unacceptable. We’re not going to be here and do nothing about it.”
He resisted the idea of increasing the age to purchase a firearm, saying that since Texas became a state, 18-year-olds have been able to buy a gun.
He also dismissed universal background checks saying existing background check policies did not prevent the Santa Fe and Sutherland Springs shootings, which both happened while he has been in office.
“If everyone wants to seize upon a particular strategy and say that’s the golden strategy right there, look at what happened in the Santa Fe shooting,” he said. “A background check had no relevance because the shooter took the gun from his parents…Anyone who suggests we should focus on background checks as opposed to mental health, I suggest is mistaken.”
Since the massacre at Robb Elementary School, the governor’s comments about potential solutions have centered around increasing mental health services, rather than restricting access to firearms.
This story has been edited for length.
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Designs for stations along Project Connect’s Blue Line were presented this week, giving a detailed look at what part of the rail system extending from downtown to the airport could look like.
The planned stations that have gotten the latest focus include Waterfront, Travis Heights and Lakeshore stations past Lady Bird Lake.
At the Waterfront station, the preliminary design aims to prevent visual obstructions and save on costs. This is accomplished by a transit guideway that will lower from the bridge to a level station.
Heading onto East Riverside Drive, the light rail faces a curve requiring a slow down to about 10 miles per hour.
The Travis Heights station could involve relocating a pedestrian crosswalk zone at Alameda Drive to Blunn Creek. Since light rails can't effectively operate on a steep grade, this allows the transit guideway to avoid that.
From there, the rail will extend to the Norwood Park area, and though it will reach along the right-of-way zone, the park will be able to remain open.
A view of the Blue Line by Lady Bird Lake. (Project Connect)
The line involves some coordination with the Texas Department of Transportation. That's because the department is working on an intersection that will have to be built before the phasing of the section of the Blue Line involving an I-35 crossing.
When it comes to the safety of cyclists and walkers, design ideas include a pedestrian hybrid beacon by East Bouldin Creek that would provide a protected signal to cross. And for the intersection TxDOT is carrying out, Project Connect is working with them on pedestrian access across the intersection. It could involve shared use paths along the street and crossings beneath it.
This summer, the public can expect 30% of design and cost estimates to be released. Though the project was $7.1 billion when voters approved it in November 2020, the latest estimates factoring in inflation and supply chain constraints show it could ultimately be upwards of $10 billion.
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