Originally written on Crystal Ball Run  |  Last updated 11/15/14

One thing we constantly hear about athletes (more so professional than college) is that they “don’t stand for anything.” Athletes like Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods and LeBron James have made millions of dollars crafting quaint images of themselves... that are almost always devoid on stances important social issues such as politics, race, and foreign affairs. No one is blaming any of those three per se, but it is a complaint heard often.

And it’s because of that, why we need to credit University of Virginia walk-on safety Joseph Williams. The sophomore has taken a stand on an issue which he felt strongly about, and has then put his money where his mouth is in support of it.

Actually, it’s interesting we mention Williams’ mouth… since Williams is in the middle of a hunger strike, to bring awareness to poor wages and working conditions to University of Virginia student workers. That's right. In a sport where massive men make their hay throwing their oversized bodies at each other, Williams has elected to literally stop eating. He explained his decision to the Washington Post’s Steve Yanda, where he spoke about the hunger strike which was organized by the university’s chapter of Living Wage Campaign:

“The campaign has been active for the past 14 years, and we’ve been basically ignored for the most part by two separate administrations, countless administrators,” Williams said Friday morning in a telephone interview. “We have widespread support in the community from Charlottesville City Council and everything.

“We felt that it was time to basically escalate and hopefully get some media pressure on them so that they would feel obligated to negotiate and hopefully bring about some of the demands that we have stated.”

It’s safe to say that this is an impressive stance for such a young kid, but really, Williams is an impressive kid in his own right. As mentioned, Williams is a walk-on at UVA, after graduating from Dominion High School in Sterling, VA at age 16. Because of his family’s tough financial situation he receives full financial aid to the school according to the Washington Post, which is no small feat at Virginia, one of the top public universities in America.

Of course given Williams' volunteer track record, this decision shouldn't be all that surprising. According to his bio on the UVA athletics website, here is the list of places Williams volunteered at in high school: Ambassadors for Peace, Service for Peace, Family Federation for World Peace & Unification, 100 Black Men of Greater Washington, D.C., Boy & Girls Club of American, Nova Family Church and Men on a Mission (Dominion HS).

It's safe to say that at 19 years on this planet, Williams has done more good than a lot of people twice his age. Credit to him.

As for his football future, well, you can imagine that it’s not going over too well in the UVA football offices. Williams- who has seen action on special teams in 2010 and 2011- was apparently brought in for a meeting by defensive coordinator Jim Reid, who said that Williams “wasn’t fulfilling his obligation to the team” according to the Washington Post. Williams has now lost nine lbs. of weight, which could affect him as he rehabs an ankle injury from late last season, and prepares for spring practice.

Still, Williams seems to be set in his decision. He hasn’t eaten since a visit to McDonald’s last Sunday, and doesn’t plan on doing it again anytime soon. More from the Washington Post:

“That's something I’m willing to sacrifice,” Williams said. “I’m very passionate about what I believe in, so obviously if I’m willing to give up food, there’s not a lot that’s going to be able to sway me as far as other people’s opinions of what I’m doing.”

Safe to say, we at Crystal Ball Run wish Williams nothing but the best of luck.


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