CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCCU/WICS/WRSP) - We are just seven days away from the election. In a year where athletes have made their voices heard more than ever. The University of Illinois football team will continue to do its part as American citizens on election day.
The best way to be involved, where you can really make a difference, is at the ballot box by voting. - Lovie Smith
Lovie Smith has been supportive of all of his players using their platforms to speak out about issues that matter to them most. When Kendrick Green approached him about organizing a peaceful march in late August, Smith used it as an opportunity to stress the importance of voting to one of the teams leaders.
"He said (the march) was good and all, and it’s something he believes we should do, but he said what do I think about voting?" Green said. "Having everyone on the team registered to vote. I had never voted a day in my life. This is going to be my first time voting. I had never thought about the importance of that until he sat down and talked to me about."
Every member of the Illinois football team is registered to vote, and will be voting in next weeks election. A sign of how much times have changed since Smith played college football at Tulsa in the late 1970's.
"I was probably part of that group that didn’t know the importance of a vote back then," Smith said. "That’s why I think it’s so important that our guys know how important their vote is now."
With the entire team preparing to vote themselves, they're also hoping to inspire others in the community to do so as well.
"Our voice matters," said senior wide receiver Trevon Sidney. "A lot of people don’t think them voting is going to do anything. A lot of people, like I was, aren't really really into it, but I just tell them all of it matters. Pay attention to it like you’re living in this world and everything affects you.
"It’s definitely showing unity and encouraging people not to sit on the sidelines, but get in the game," added senior wide receiver Josh Imatorbhebhe. "If there’s something that you want to see in the country, do your research, figure out which political candidate is backing up whatever policies you want to see, and then vote for them. It’s that simple."