In a number of states, a well organized union of college football players could be a stronger political force than the state Democratic Party. The Civil War ended 156 years ago, but Mississippi did not remove the Confederate flag from its state flag until 2020, when it was threatened with losing access to college football championship games. That is how powerful college football is. Do not underestimate it.
There are huge numbers of conservative Southerners who would fight against all important progressive reforms — unless doing so threatened their access to college football. Then, they would at least be willing to negotiate. A union of Southeastern Conference football players, from schools like Ole Miss, Alabama and the University of Georgia, could force the powers that be in the South to come to the table and negotiate on broader social and economic issues in a way that almost no other group could.