Covid-19 isn’t going away anytime soon and thousands of colleges and universities are preparing for the Fall semester to be completed online.
According to a press release, the SEC will play a conference-only schedule in 2020. The Big Ten and Pac-12 made similar decisions in the offseason.
This decision isn’t sitting well with players, at least the SEC players who sat in on a private meeting with conference leaders and medical advisers.
According to the Washington Post, several football players raised concerns about their safety while on the call and were met with an “it is what it is”-type answer.
From the Post:
The meeting, which took place Wednesday, included more than a dozen SEC football players, members of the conference’s medical advisory board and SEC officials, including Commissioner Greg Sankey. It was designed as a “confidential free exchange,” an SEC spokesman said in an email, where the league’s medical advisers could “hear questions and our student-athletes were able to hear answers.”
But the recording offers a window into how conference officials — keen on keeping a multibillion dollar industry afloat amid the novel coronavirus pandemic — are, and aren’t, reassuring the athletes they need to make the season a reality.
“There are going to be outbreaks,” one official told players on the call. (The official didn’t identify himself, and the SEC spokesman declined to identify him to The Post.) “We’re going to have cases on every single team in the SEC. That’s a given. And we can’t prevent it.”
(raises my hand) “Well, you could prevent it by not having a season…”
(statement gets ignored)
SEC players – along with players from other conferences – have the option to opt-out of the 2020 season and retain their scholarships.
Earlier in the week, Virginia Tech cornerback Caleb Farley said that he lost his mother to breast cancer and “couldn’t stomach the idea of losing another family member.” Farley opted to sit out the season.
Ra’Von Bonner, a running back at the University of Illinois, said the “risks of playing outweighed the reward” and also opted to sit out.
The players weren’t just concerned with these school’s responses to Covid-19 on the football field. Many expressed doubts about being around other students on campus, especially those underclassmen who weren’t taking the virus seriously.
MoMo Sanogo, a linebacker at the University of Mississippi, asked the officials on the call why his school planned to bring thousands of students to campus for fall classes. Sanogo said he has four classes per week, and he fears some of those classmates will go to bars and parties at night, then unknowingly infect football players during class.
The answer Sanogo received shed light on the pressure that university presidents, who rely on college football for prestige and revenue, face to reopen their campuses this fall, even as the pandemic surges. “It’s one of those things where if students don’t come back to campus, then the chances of having a football season are almost zero,” an official who did not identify himself said.
Sanogo’s concerns were met with the typical “wear a mask, avoid people, sit in the back of the room” replies that can be found on any medical pamphlet and precautions Sanogo is WELL AWARE OF considering what’s gone on the last six months.
To get the full idea of just how concerned the players are about contracting Covid-19, and the lasting effects the virus might have on their health, read the entire write up at the Washington Post.
Long story short, these kids are worried about their health and future and counting on adults who, admittedly, don’t have all the answers.
But many of the students brought this question up in the meeting and it bears repeating here – with so many questions, why is holding a season still the only answer?
Officials asking grown men in the NBA, MLB, NFL and NHL to move forward with a season – and assume the risks – is one thing.
The officials asking 18-21 year old kids to risk their lives and future health for the financial bottom line of a school that likely won’t care if they do get sick, or worse, should have more answers than the SEC is providing to student athletes.
[via Washington Post]