New York Times – The Wisconsin basketball players Nigel Hayes and Jordan Hill took a step behind their teammates during the national anthem before the ninth-ranked Badgers’ season opener on Friday. It was another in a long series of visible protests from one of college basketball’s most socially aware locker rooms.
Hayes, a senior who was named the preseason Big Ten player of the year, has lobbied for players to be paid, serving as a plaintiff in a lawsuit seeking a freer market for top athletes and once showing up to an ESPN “College GameDay” set sardonically identifying himself as a “broke athlete.” Hayes has also posted about the Black Lives Matter movement to his more than 80,000 Twitter followers and recently joined other Wisconsin athletes in demanding university action after a fan appeared in a mask of President Obama and a noose at a Badgers home football game.
Hill, a redshirt junior, also writes provocatively on Twitter. And in September, Wisconsin’s starting point guard, the senior Bronson Koenig, traveled to support protesters of the Dakota Access pipeline, many of whom are, like him, Native American.
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) October 15, 2016
In a sit-down interview with three players from what the New York Times has labeled “College Basketball’s Most Political Locker Room”, the curtain gets peeled back a little bit on what life is like for these three guys who continue to put more responsibilities on their plate. Nigel Hayes has taken the role as the vocal leader of not only Wisconsin’s basketball team, but for all Division 1 athletes who struggle to find their place amongst their fellow students.
Whether it is the fight for the right to be paid, taking a stand against police brutality, or protesting the Dakota Access pipeline, these guys are there and ready to use their platform to extend their influence. But what will it really do?
I am skeptical of what immediate benefits these guys will be able to enjoy, but what is obvious is that they don’t care about all of that. The causes they are fighting for will never go away, but as they reach the tail end of their college careers it is important to note that they are not simply falling in line. They are carrying the torch, and the spotlight has never been brighter.