Two years after the NCAA declared Election Day “All Vote, No Play,” some Stanford student-athletes found that to be more a reality than others.
The majority of Cardinal teams which are not in season had their practices canceled on Tuesday, including women’s lacrosse, women’s water polo, and track and field. Men’s soccer players, while in season, were given a break from practice, and wrestling worked out earlier than usual to give team members the afternoon to focus on democracy if they chose to do so.
Men’s wrestling just started its season with a competition on Nov. 6, finishing first overall. Previously, the team was Pac 12 champions in 2019 and individual NCAA winners in 2021. Coach Jason Borrelli has had top-five conference finishes since 2010.
Borrelli made a conscious effort to move practice and emphasize the importance of voting, said senior wrestler Lucci Arroyo.
“Our coach moved practice time up in the day to the morning … so that we did have time to go and vote. He did it intentionally, both moving practice and mentioning why we do have the day to vote, which we all appreciated,” Arroyo said.
An NCAA policy known as CARA, short for “counted athletic related activities,” gave in-season coaches the option to hold practice. This included football, women’s cross country and women’s soccer, which begins its postseason tournament play on Friday.
“Our coach and us had to log in CARA hours in our compliance platform, and technically today is ‘optional’ practice, but obviously we all know what that means,” said a runner on the women’s cross country team, who requested anonymity because she was not authorized to speak for the team.
On Sept. 16, 2020, the NCAA announced that Election Day would be a mandatory day off from all team-related activities for Division 1 athletes across the country. With the police killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmed Arbery fresh in mind, student-athletes rose up to advocate for the importance of voting.
For the inaugural “All Vote, No Play” initiative two years ago, virtually all Stanford teams did not practice.
Elijah Higgins, a senior wide receiver on the football team, said he was surprised that his coaches went ahead with practice on Tuesday. “Our coach did not mention voting or having the day off at all,” Higgins said. “We are practicing today as usual.”
Stanford’s NCAA compliance officials sent out emails to teams in season which have CARA hours to use (there is an allotment of allowed hours). The email stated that student-athletes using these hours should “receive a separate day off in order to civically engage” at a later point. Interviews with members of several of the teams indicated that a future day off had yet to be scheduled.
Meanwhile, some professional sports leagues across the country have taken actions to encourage voting. The NBA canceled practices on Tuesday and did not schedule games in order for their players and staff to go and vote. All 30 NFL stadiums were available for election-related activities for the day. The WNBA partnered with a social media platform called Rock the Vote to help get Americans registered.
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