Within the last few weeks, student-athletes around the country have begun to return to their respective campuses in the hopes of returning to play later this year.
However, with current spikes of COVID-19 recapturing national attention, many athletes are concerned about the future of the fall season and are questioning their return to campus with so many uncertainties up in the air and personal safety on the line.
The University of Arizona president recently released a statement stating that students would not be returning to campus under current conditions, citing the “exponential growth of cases” as the reason for a potential delayed in-person return. Arizona athletes returned to campus on June 15th for voluntary workouts but the University has since paused that plan after the state’s recent surge in COVID-19 cases and the state’s governor ordered a 30-day shutdown. However, some student-athletes, including members of the football program, are still on campus, prompting responses from team members on social media.
So why me and my team on campus then? https://t.co/qbY5y0GSbt
— Malik Hausman (@LeekHausman) June 30, 2020
University of Arizona athletes have been joined by University of Illinois athletes in their concerns, and are publicly questioning university officials on the motives behind decision making.
I understand that people want to see us play this season but in reality how can a team full of 100+ student athletes fully function during a pandemic. Trust, my teammates and I want to play. But schools around the country are showing blatant disregard for student athletes.
— Milo (@_miloeifler) July 1, 2020
In June, 30 UCLA football players signed a letter demanding that COVID-19 safety protocols be followed and enforced by a third party and that there be a whistleblower to report any violations against these protocols, taking protective measures into their own hands. The players also requested scholarship protections if they were to decline to participate in team activities due to personal safety concerns.
Amid discussions of player safety, student-athletes are also reigniting the conversation of being paid to play; some believe risking personal safety is more than enough reason to receive monetary compensation from universities and the NCAA.
The NCAA and universities want us to play during a global pandemic so they won’t lose millions of dollars, but can’t/ won’t give us money? I’m not asking for 50k but you can’t break us off 3 bands?
— Zay (@issaiah_johnson) June 30, 2020
With the situation continually shifting around the country, we will have to wait and see who (if anyone) takes the field this fall.