From on-campus marches regarding racial injustice to participation in national social media campaigns such as #WeWantToPlay, Texas A&M athletes have remained politically active throughout the 2020 election cycle. On Sept. 22, the Texas A&M softball team hosted a voter registration drive at Davis Diamond to provide students and athletes alike with the opportunity to register to vote in Brazos County.
With Election Day here, the athletes are continuing their efforts to be engaged.
Per NCAA guidelines passed in September, all Division I athletes received Tuesday off from practices in honor of Election Day.
Voting in the 2020 general election has been an often-discussed subject within the A&M football team for the past few weeks, A&M coach Jimbo Fisher said.
“We talked about if you voted early, that’s great, if you haven't you need to get out there,” Fisher said. “We’ve been encouraging that for the last couple weeks to make sure they get out, and we even told them if you do it early, if you wanted to you may be able to avoid all the lines and some of the stuff that goes on on Election Day. But if you wait until the day, make sure you’re exercising your right.”
The push for athletes to vote comes from several members of the coaching staff, junior defensive end Tyree Johnson said.
“Coach [Fisher] mentions [voting] every day after every practice,” Johnson said. “Even Coach Price, when we get huddled up he mentions it before we all break off that we have to go vote and we can vote down the street on campus and it takes 10 minutes. It’s been a very important part of us to get that done and handled.”
The Aggies’ off day usually comes on Sunday, but they utilized the day to watch film and participate in walkthroughs instead, Fisher said.
“We did a walkthrough, a basic, complete walkthrough, a special teams walkthrough for a limited amount of time and an offensive, defensive walkthrough,” Fisher said. “Completely no physical, just engaging fronts, engaging what the guy does and introducing blitzes or introducing routes on the defense or runs or goal-line, all your situations. You kind of walk through all those things like a complete mental practice.”
Rather than using Monday as a day to watch film, Fisher said during Monday’s press conference he would extend practice to make it feel more like a Tuesday practice.
According to The Eagle, A&M’s soccer and volleyball teams have also adjusted their practice schedules in order to accommodate Election Day.
Though it changes the team’s normal routine, Fisher said having Election Day off is extremely important.
“[It’s] the right thing to do for voting and getting our kids to make sure they vote and they exercise their right to do that and get all that taken care of,” Fisher said. “But that does challenge you as far as our preparation. We have to get things ready quickly today and then go back on Wednesday.”
For senior offensive tackle Carson Green, Tuesday is a day he would rather use to practice for the Aggies’ upcoming matchup with South Carolina since he already voted during the bye week.
“In my opinion, I wish we were practicing. I think it’s just another day of the year,” Green said. “It’s big time, the election. Coach has made a big emphasis that we all have a choice to make a difference, and voting is how we can make a difference. He’s definitely pushing that for everybody on the team.
“In my opinion, I wish we could prepare for the next week, that’s just the only thing we can really do. If we want our voices to be heard, we have to win. To win you have to prepare for the next week.”
While Fisher recognizes the mid-week off day interrupts the Aggies’ practice schedule, he said the bye week provided the team ample time to prepare for its upcoming opponents, including South Carolina.
“We did a lot of prep time in the off week,” Fisher said. “We got that information in, which we knew was very important.”
No matter the changes to the practice schedule, Fisher said he recognizes taking time off to ensure everyone on the team has a chance to vote is most important.
“You want change in this world and you want things to do what you want. You have a chance to voice your opinion right here, and voting, that’s as strong as you’ve got, so please go do that,” Fisher said.