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Alabama’s Nick Saban speaks up for the right to vote


Alabama’s Nick Saban speaks up for the right to vote

Nick Saban (r.), with Joe ManchinPhoto: Getty Images

There is no shortage of examples of athletes using their public platforms to elevate social justice causes, from the Black Power salute at the 1968 Olympics to the Black Lives Matter marches led by collegiate athletes in the summer of 2020, and the countless moments in between. Multiple athletes in American history have chosen to place their careers on the line to make a statement — in the last half century, these protests have often taken place in the name of combating racial injustice, specifically against Black Americans. And far too often, the athletes are left alone and abandoned, sometimes ostracized, from their sport for having the courage to speak out after they’ve succeeded in getting to a national or international stage.

I’m not sure what’s worse — being left out to dry, as the NFL did to Colin Kaepernick, or whatever the leagues are doing in order to seem like they’re trying these days. Players aren’t punished for peaceful protests anymore, but in 2020, Rob Manfred tried to pull off a protest publicity stunt during an MLB game. He then proceeded to defend the racism behind the Braves’ name and traditions in 2021. The NFL plastered “End Racism” in end zones throughout the country in 2020 while still essentially refusing to hire or retain Black coaches in 2022 (do I need to remind you that 70 percent of the players are Black?). The public efforts of major sports leagues have often rung distinctively false and seemed as though they’re just attempting to cling onto some sort of trendy concept of racial justice.

And in the middle of the athletes and the organizations lie the coaches and executives — a group that signed a letter to West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin this week urging him to support the Freedom to Vote Act, which aims to restore several original aspects of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Alabama coach Nick Saban, who grew up in West Virginia and walked alongside his players in a Black Lives Matter march, is one of the signers of the letter, along with former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue and NBA executive and former…

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