Editorial other views

The following editorial published on Aug. 29 in the New York Times:

For more than six months now, many workers deemed essential have had to strap on face masks for shifts at meatpacking plants, Walmarts’, grocery stores, hardware stores and restaurants. It is a necessary sacrifice for the nation’s well-being. But at universities across the country, while scores of professors, staff and students start the academic year remotely to curb the spread of the coronavirus, another class of worker will be asked to strap on protective gear to do their job — without the face coverings: college football players.

Never has the inaccuracy of the term “student-athlete” been put in starker relief than in the misguided and dangerous attempt by the Big 12, Atlantic Coast Conference and Southeastern Conference to press forward with a nearly full season of football games beginning next month — as non-athlete classmates are sent home for their safety. For many college competitors, but for football in particular, the demands of practice and travel can exceed those of a full-time job. The players do it all, however, for no pay — while schools, coaches, television networks and the conferences profit.

Saturday afternoon college football is a way of life for millions of Americans. But the players — and make no mistake, the young people who play for these teams are workers, helping to generate billions in revenue collectively for their universities — are not essential in the middle of a pandemic that has already taken nearly 200,000 lives in the United States. The health and future of college players deserve far more consideration than they’ve gotten thus far from their coaches, their fans and the presidents of their universities.

The Big Ten and Pac-12 conferences, whose members include powerhouses like the University of Michigan and the University of Southern California, this month decided to suspend their coming football seasons until it is prudent for players to return to a sport that is impossible to play while staying 6 feet apart.

Until there is such a thing as a socially distanced quarterback sack, the other three so-called Power 5 conferences ought to follow suit. ....

President Trump and a number of lawmakers, including Senators Marco Rubio and Ben Sasse and Representative Jim Jordan, have called for college football to return in the face of overwhelming evidence that doing so is a bad idea. The SEC’s University of Alabama, for example, sent more than 500 students home for testing positive just days into the semester’s start.

“The clear advice from our medical professionals made the choice obvious to us that we couldn’t hold a football season,” Larry Scott, the Pac-12 commissioner, said. “We have a responsibility to protect our players, and given what we still don’t know about the spread of the virus, we simply couldn’t play football and look parents in the eye and say, ‘We’ve got your kids’ best interests in mind.’” ....

The excitement of the football season (not to mention countless other aspects of pre-pandemic American life) would be welcome after months of shelter-in-place orders. But with the U.S. death toll continuing to rise and infections exceeding 5.7 million, players and other students contracting the virus as a result of an ill-advised college football season is not a likelihood — it’s a certainty. ...

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(2) comments

Rick Dockery

May we please get 7 days of local editorials? Thank you

bcooper Staff
Becky Cooper

Thank you for your request. The Advocate has long held the importance of local, state and national editorials. We provide locally written editorials three days a week, one day for national editorials and one for state editorials. On the sixth day we offer views from readers with the Thumbs up Thumbs down. We recently eliminated the Saturday Viewpoints page to give us more space for our Sports section and coverage of local, college and pro sports. Thank you for writing. Becky Cooper, Managing Editor

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