Players protest NCAA by marking gear for #AllPlayersUnited movement

Graham Watson

Several players on Saturday adorned parts of their uniforms to protest the NCAA’s treatment of college athletes.

According to a statement by the National College Players Association, an advocacy group that supports NCAA reform, Tech players wrote the letters “APU” – All Players United – on their wrist tape and towels.

Ramogi Huma, NCPA president, told ESPN the protest was an effort started through weekly conference calls. While Georgia Tech was the first team to start the protest, Huma said several other players on other teams have shown interest in participating. The movement also is using social media to get the word out with hashtags #APU and #AllPlayersUnited.

"Players will continue to wear the APU throughout the season and spread the word," Huma told ESPN. "They're taking the reform effort to television, which has never been done. They've been using their bodies to make money for the people who run NCAA sports. Now, for the first time, they're using their bodies to push for basic protections at the very least."

Here’s how the NCPA website explained the goals for the All Players United campaign:

• Demonstrate unity among college athletes and fans in favor of NCAA reform.

• Show support for players who joined concussion lawsuits against the NCAA, which could "force the NCAA to finally take meaningful steps to minimize brain trauma in contact sports and provide resources for current and former players suffering with brain injuries."

• Show support for the players who "stepped up in the O'Bannon v. NCAA, EA Sports lawsuit regarding the use of players' images/likeliness, which could unlock billions of dollars in resources for current, future, and former players."

• Stand behind individual players being "harmed by NCAA rules."

This is an interesting grassroots campaign to try to bring awareness to play safety. The NCAA has tried to do more this season by creating tougher targeting penalties and concussion guidelines. Interestingly enough, those targeting rules have drawn the ire of coaches, players and fans because they haven’t always been enforced properly.

It will be interesting to see how many players get in on the movement and whether the NCAA acknowledges it.

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