Hochman: Imagine if sports fans cared about political voting as much as MVP or Heisman voting? | Benjamin Hochman

And on a flurry of a day, as Walters got news his grandfather had passed away, Manuel and the players prepared an afternoon march by The Columns. They went downtown near the courthouse. Everyone took a knee for 8 minutes and 46 seconds — the length of time the white cop, Derek Chauvin, knelt on the neck and killed Floyd, a black man.

“When you take a knee for that long,” Walters said, “it kind of brings to reality what took place.”

And then, the football players registered to vote.

Manuel is an impressive young man. Again, just a sophomore-to-be. He grew up in Columbia, Mo. He was active in his church, which gave him numerous community service opportunities, everywhere from visiting retirement homes in town to building homes in Jamaica. Manuel spoke of the power of the personal touch, not just in building a person’s home, but also giving them a hug. He’s passionate and compassionate.

But, he wasn’t registered to vote.

“So if it wasn’t for coach Walters to come up with this idea,” Manuel said, “a lot of us, including myself, probably will never even had registered to vote in the first place. …

“I feel like that it’s just a problem in the year 2020 — that our youth isn’t as involved in the politics, our youth isn’t involved in elections. And we can honestly play a big role. It’s really important for the youth to get involved, because we can be ‘keyboard warriors’ and tweet about stuff, but if we’re not actually doing the only thing that we can do as citizens to make a change, then what are we doing?”

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