In late June, a college football player left their home to return to campus for voluntary workouts. Before leaving for college, the athlete got a message from his roommate and fellow teammate, informing him he had tested positive for COVID-19.
If his teammate had not disclosed the unfortunate news, the football player would have been at a high risk of contracting the illness and been without a place to stay while his roommate quarantined.
The athlete, after reporting this information, hoped to keep his name and that of the institution anonymous. He claims that the coaches, medical staff, and athletic director never informed him personally that his teammate was ill.
It is clear that football players, at any level, are constantly at risk of injury, but this pre-season has already proven to be different since the rest. Already, many college football players have tested positive for COVID-19.
This is less than two months before students are set to return to campus. Many universities have already announced they will be going online full-time. But, this is not the case at the majority of college campuses around the nation.
This specific football player is at a higher risk considering his previously diagnosed sickle cell anemia. He is worried about contracting the illness as research indicated black people are at greater risk.
Being Compared to Guinea Pigs
An associate clinical professor of Sports Management at Drexel University, Karen Weaver, compared college football players to “guinea pigs.”
Weaver has emphasized the lack of consideration for these athletes being “real human beings.” They were the first group of athletes to re-enter aspects of normal life, especially in regards to the sports industry.
She compared the circumstances to those of a research study. Weaver claims that those who participate in a research study should be allowed the opportunity to give informed consent.
This was a crucial point in her argument as she believes it is essentially immoral what is being done to college athletes.
What’s the Plan?
As of now, the Ivy League, Patriot League, and Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference have canceled all fall sports. Universities in other conferences are electing to play the upcoming season amid coronavirus concerns, including schools in the Power Five conferences.
Many health experts have expressed the need for all those participating to be educated as thoroughly as possible on the potential risks of contracting the illness through contact sport.
They claim that public health perspective is crucial for sports organizations to understand as their choices will affect not only college athletes but also their students.
Ever since college athletes returned to campus, a large number of schools have reformatted their college plans. Plans to reopen have been altered to host all students and faculty in the safest environment possible.
The college football player mentioned earlier is protesting with more than 20 players at his school to be given a choice to not play in the upcoming season.
Much like several professional sports leagues, college football programs should adopt similar ideas as many athletes have valid reasons as to why COVID-19 concerns could be detrimental to their livelihood.