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.

The former Miami Heat player received praise and support for his part in the historic win on social media with the hashtag #MakeHistoryWithAVote.


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