Earlier in the 2016 season, Arizona Wildcats head coach Rich Rodriguez said he’d be disappointed if one of his players knelt during the National Anthem to protest social injustice in this country.
I felt that him discouraging college students to voice their opinion was odd and wrong, but now we have a new one.
With possibly the most important Election Day ever upon us, Rodriguez was asked on Monday if he had talked to the team about the importance of voting, and he responded with this:
“I’ll be honest with you, I didn’t even think about it. Not that I didn’t think about it because you can’t help but know that there’s an election tomorrow, but I didn’t think about talking to the team about it. I’m more concerned with trying to get us to play better football.”
As someone who primarily has young men on his roster that have never voted in a Presidential Election before, I think Rodriguez needed to at least discuss the subject with his players and has missed the boat here.
Even more curious, RichRod appears in this Pac-12 video on the importance of voting.
“What’s one vote gonna do amongst millions, but it can make a difference,” he says in his short appearance.
Sani Fuimaono pops up at the end of the video, saying “every vote counts”.
It makes it even more surprising to me that Rich acknowledged that his son Rhett just voted in his first Presidential Election at the age of 18.
It’s been discussed time and time again that players go to a college because of the coaching staff, and these coaches are role models, whether they like it or not. The players spend more time with their coaches than anyone else during the season, so Rodriguez has a responsibility to at least acknowledge the importance of Election Day to his team.
College is a very impressionable time for everyone, and while I obviously don’t think Rodriguez should be telling his players how to vote, he should be talking about the importance of voting. There’s more to being a college football coach than just football, and this is one of those times in American history where that is more true than ever.
As a father that now has two children of voting age, plus his role of leading a group of 18-22 year olds, Rodriguez should have at least addressed it at some point.