Student-Athlete of the Year

Far too often, we wake up to the morning news screaming at us about a prolific college football program being suspended for illegal benefits. Or a star linebacker getting busted for dealing drugs. Or a point guard arrested on a rape charge. The thuggery of college sports dominates headlines in America.

Today, we have a beautiful break from that nonsense. We have a walk-on safety at the University of Virginia who is fighting for a worthy cause in the most selfless way possible. According to a Yahoo! Sports article, Joseph Williams is currently on a hunger strike that has lasted eight days thus far, in order “to protest the economic and social injustices perpetrated by the UVa administration against the vast majority of the University’s service-sector employees.”

Wait, really? A kid who graduated high school at age 16, earned a walk-on spot on a D-I football team and has all the open world ahead of him for the taking, is starving himself for men and women who serve the UVa community with their bare hands?

Damn.

That’s class. Apparently, Williams wrote a very nice essay (read it here) detailing the reasons he was striking. Among others, he cited his own past. One of four children raised by a single mom, living in 30 different places as he grew up, makes this a very personal issue for Williams.

And the general Charlottesville, VA area is truly an above-averagely expensive place to live. So $7.25 an hour for some of the hardest working people in the community is not going to cut it.

That’s unjust no matter where it’s taking place. But the fact that Williams and his comrades have the balls to strike and go public about it for the benefit of the workers who are being snubbed, is beyond admirable.

A huge problem in our country is the pay scales are all out of whack. Roger Goodell is making $20 million a year as the NFL commissioner. Oil tycoons make billions of dollars a year to poison the Earth, yet the thousands of teachers and professors educating the future generations of students who may take a stand against these very financial crimes, are struggling to get by.

Where is the justice in that? And a good chunk of student-athletes take their privileges and abuse them. Even if it’s not in an illegal manner, too many student-athletes openly abuse their social standing. That’s not to say that there aren’t good role models – but we only get flooded with negative news.

I just hope for two things. First, that the (vastly overpaid, by the way) powers that be at Virginia take serious consideration to what Williams and the 17 accompanying protesters are doing. And second, that student-athletes everywhere start to realize how much good they can do if fighting for the right causes.

Joseph Williams gets a standing ovation from this blogger. Keep it up, young man.

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