Meet the Advocates: Sydney Moore, Cornell Volleyball
Transcript of TAB's latest interview with Cornell Woman's Volleyball player and NIL advocate Sydney Moore.
This interview has been slightly edited for grammar and readability. The video of the conversation transcribed below can be seen HERE.
Griffin Uribe Brown (00:01.954)
All right, welcome to The Athletes Bureau. My name is Griffin. We're joined today by Sydney. Thanks so much for joining us today. Yeah, of course. All right, let's just get right into it. Tell us a little bit about yourself. Who are you? You play volleyball at Cornell. How'd you end up there? Give us the rundown of where you've been and why you're where you're at right now.
Sydney Moore (00:08.979)
Thank you for having me. Glad to be here.
Sydney Moore (00:22.443)
Yeah, for sure. So keeping it short, I play volleyball at Cornell. I've been playing volleyball throughout high school, grew up in northern New Jersey, and then moved to San Diego right in the middle of it. Both my parents were college athletes, so always been a really athletic family and I've been a women's sports advocate for the past four years or so.
Griffin Uribe Brown (00:43.918)
Cool, tell me a little bit about how you got into advocacy and what kind of things you're advocating for on a day-to-day basis.
Sydney Moore (00:50.127)
Yeah, for sure. I think my whole life I've been a little bit of an advocate. My grandmother was a social studies teacher and I spent a lot of my summers with her and she would always show me a lot of different stories and we’d watch the news and go to museums. So I've always been learning about advocacy, how the world works and trying to improve it. But specifically within sports advocacy, I started when I was going into my freshman year of college during COVID.
One of the girls that I had gone to high school with was writing these different articles about her experience as a Black woman athlete. And I was so inspired by them and was messaging her and saying, “Wow, this is so cool. I wish I could be involved.” And she actually invited me to write my own article. So it started with me talking about being a Black woman athlete, writing for a company called Voice in Sport that was just about to launch. I ended up becoming a mentor and a marketing intern at the company and I've been working there and as part of their foundation for the last couple of years, specifically working with Title IX and being a mentor to high school and college athletes.
Griffin Uribe Brown (01:55.97)
And what have you been kind of working on the last few months or weeks, what do you see yourself doing right now?
Sydney Moore (02:01.359)
Yeah, right now we've been working at Voice in Sport Foundation. We have what's called the Advocate Program, where we get high school and college girls to come in and learn about Title IX. And it's a big national program where we meet once a month to talk about different issues in women's sports, specifically in gender equity. All of our advocates get trained on Title IX, exactly what the legislation is, how to check their school for compliance, and then they create chapters to actually evaluate their school themselves and make changes on the community level.
And so I've been working on that a lot lately, a lot of calls with advocates, a lot of Title IX trainings. I just did one on Monday with Ohio State SAC virtually. So that's really what we've been working on. Working on Title IX and trying to get our bill passed.
Griffin Uribe Brown (02:44.386)
Alright, so in part today we're here to talk about the College Athlete Economic Freedom Act. Can you tell me a little bit about what that bill is and what's in it?
Sydney Moore (02:51.907)
Yeah, so the College of Economic Freedom Act is super interesting. It actually came to us from the two sponsors of the bill, who also sponsor our bill, the Fair Play for Women Act. So it was very value-aligned and that's kind of how I came to know about it. The bill really works in four major ways to improve the experience for all athletes, specifically within NIL or Name, Image and Likeness. I'm going to break these down here.
The first is preventing schools, conferences in the NCAA from restricting athletes' NIL opportunities. So that can show up in a lot of different ways, but the main way is really ensuring that athletes can choose the opportunities they want and how to get them. So for example, if they want an agent or some kind of representation to help them negotiate their deals, if they're looking for specific types of contracts that their schools, the conference, NCAA isn't prohibiting them from doing so.
At that point, right now, a lot of conferences or schools kind of say that they have these rules to protect student-athletes, to keep them from making bad deals. And while that's definitely important and we want those things in place, schools should be responsible for that. At this point, they're maybe kind of going above and beyond in the name of protecting athletes. So this kind of evens the scale a little bit. The second is allowing international athletes to market their NiL.
The second allows international athletes to market their NIL rights without losing their visa status. So right now, if you're an international athlete, you actually can't do any NIL deals or use your name, image, and likeness without losing your visa and your ability to play and go to school in the States. So personally, this is close to home because I have a teammate who's an international student who isn't able to be involved in NIL.
To me, NIL is more than just making money and promoting products. For me, NIL has been being able to go to the ESPNW summit and talk about Title IX. It's being able to post on Instagram and do different things to talk about advocacy without fear of my athlete status being kind of used against me. So that's super important to me. But also because I know of plenty of international athletes or international student-athletes whose whole teams are able to participate in NIL activities. The brand that represents their school wants them all to do something and they can't go because they're an international student. And it doesn't quite make sense because international students can make money by being a student in so many other ways. So why not this one?
The third is ensuring colleges and collectives don't discriminate against race, gender, or sports in NIL deals. And this is super important to me as well, being a Title IX advocate, being a gender equity advocate. This is huge because right now Title IX really isn't held in a lot of schools. A lot of schools aren't compliant with Title IX. This is a really nice way to kind of set that precedent. But then also for athletes of all races, of all genders, and especially, you know, non-obvious sports, this is a great way for them to get opportunities. So just having that option and giving them an option if they want to take it to be able to get those NIL deals.
And then specifically for women athletes, this is our best opportunity right now to make money as an athlete. So having that is amazing.
And then the fourth is encouraging negotiations between athletes and colleges for the use of NIL in promotion and media rights. So historically the conversation about NIL before it was passed is that colleges, the NCAA, conferences are making billions of dollars off media deals and promotion and all of these different things of their athletes, and student-athletes aren't seeing those dollars directly. So while NIL opened up the opportunity for athletes to benefit, it didn't change the fact that schools are still excessively profiting off of them. It didn't change the fact that schools are making money directly from the promotion, just allowed student-athletes to make money off their own promotion. This just allows student-athletes to start negotiating and really gives transparency of what the schools are making and what deals they're making about how the athletes are going to be portrayed.
Griffin Uribe Brown (07:13.642)
Thank you for that. That was a very helpful way of laying it out. So you've decided to endorse this. You kind of mentioned the value alignment and a few reasons for how this touches you personally. What do you want to tell other student-athletes about why they should also be supporting this?
Sydney Moore (07:29.475)
Yeah, I think regardless of whether you specifically care about NIL or whether you want to be an influencer or want to be an advocate or post things, I think having that opportunity to and having that transparency is super important and that's why I'm really endorsing this bill. Especially if you're a woman athlete, the line alone about collectives and schools not being able to discriminate in deals is just alone you should be supporting this bill. It just opens up such a great legal precedent in the future for Title IX reform like the Fair Play for Women Act. So that's really why I'm endorsing it and I would say as a college athlete think about what can your peers who are also students at your university do in terms of social media, in terms of promoting a brand, different things, and is it really fair that you can't do the same? And so that's really what this bill is doing. It's nothing too radical. It’s things that are already available to most students on campus and making sure they're available to student-athletes as well.
Griffin Uribe Brown (08:35.758)
All right, and I'm not a student-athlete. What are things that people like me could do to help this bill get passed?
Sydney Moore (08:42.543)
Yeah, so I would say all student-athletes, anyone over 18, and honestly under 18, should know who their representatives are in both the House and the Senate. So you can take a minute right now and go on Google and find out who your Congresspeople are. Both your House and your Senators, and know who they are. Follow them on Instagram. You can send them direct messages if you want to. You can get their contact information quickly off of Google search and ask them what they’re doing to support the things that you care about.
So knowing what those are, if there's anything that feels off about your greater community, do a quick research and see what's the law about that, what's the bill, what's going on with that and how can they help. It's great to vote and there are so many people who are going to tell you to vote this year and I definitely encourage that. But on top of voting, know who your representatives are after you vote, who actually gets elected, and make sure that they're doing what they said they were going to do.
Griffin Uribe Brown (09:42.038)
Alright, and do you have any advice for other college athletes who aren't as involved? If they want to get involved, what should they be doing? How can they find opportunities to do what you do?
Sydney Moore (09:54.383)
Yeah, you know, it doesn't take a ton to be an advocate. You don't have to post on Instagram all the time. You don't have to travel and do Title IX trainings. You don't have to do a podcast. You really just have to know what the problem is and want to help it. That's kind of what I've always been saying about advocacy. So I would say look up the College Economic Freedom Act. Also, look up the Fair Play for Women Act.
Follow the different people who are talking about it, repost it, share it. It's super easy to see a graphic on Instagram and post it on your story and kind of share that information. You're not going to go to the Senate and talk about the bill, but what you can do is talk to your school, talk to your coaches about small ways that what's being represented in the bill can be done. So maybe we're not going to pass that bill right away, but maybe your school would be open to sharing what the contract looks like or allowing you specifically to do some kind of deal. So there are a lot of ways to be an advocate and get things done.
Griffin Uribe Brown (10:54.954)
And how do you balance being an advocate, being a student, being an athlete? How do you do that day-to-day?
Sydney Moore (11:00.187)
I'm still figuring that out. It's a lot. I think what is most important is what have I committed to and what's most important to me. And that changes day to day, right? The time of practice changes from week to week. But I did come to Cornell to be a student and to be an athlete. And the advocacy sometimes comes second or comes right after that. A lot of time management and I think also a lot of trust that these things do take time and that I'm doing my best to live the world and change the world to the way that I hope it will be.
Griffin Uribe Brown (11:38.154)
And one last thing, do you have a call to action to whoever is listening, student-athlete, non-student athlete, not even someone in college, if you have like one sentence, two sentences to give something to them, what do you want them to hear? Take away from this.
Sydney Moore (11:50.571)
Oh, I would say, my favorite quote that I've heard from so many people now, I don't know who started it, is “you can't fight for right if you don't know you have it.” And second, “just because this is the way things are done doesn't mean it's the way they have to be.” So if there's something going on, you don't like it, you're confused by it, research it and figure out what's actually going on. And then if you think there's a better way to do it, you don't have to settle with it. Use your voice and figure out how you can change it.
Griffin Uribe Brown (12:21.591)
Where can people reach you? Where can they find you on social media or any other way?
Sydney Moore (12:26.019)
Yeah, you can follow me on Instagram. That's the best way to see everything I'm doing. @ssydney.mmoore
Griffin Uribe Brown (12:37.474)
Perfect, yeah. All right, Sydney, thank you so much for talking to me. Some really good answers there, a lot to think about.
Sydney Moore (12:44.071)
Thank you, Griffin. Thanks for reaching out. I'm just excited about this.