Letter to the Editor | Allowing return of football exacerbates pandemic

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By John Strauser

While it might be shocking to some, it turns out that Big Ten Football players are also students on Big Ten campuses. It can be easy to forget that because these students participate in a multi-million dollar entertainment industry which makes coaches and administrators millionaires.

Under normal circumstances, when the conversation turns to paying players, we are quickly reminded these players are compensated by being able to attend prestigious universities on scholarship. Recognizing that these players are students, it is only logical that the safeguards put in place to protect the student body would also apply to these athletes.

Today, the Big Ten announced it will be playing football this fall, and with that, so will Illinois.

This football season defies the safety standards we have set for our campus community. As explicitly stated in the University guidelines, “All in-person event participants will be required to follow a number of health and safety guidelines including wearing face covers and practicing social distancing which may further reduce event capacity.”

The same university today decided it is okay for our students to play football. This decision seems hypocritical, as a former Big Ten football player, I am perplexed on how one could wear a mask and remain six feet socially distant while playing football.

The decisions made by University officials today seem to ignore the very policies that they have put forth to protect campus. Before Labor Day weekend, Chancellor Jones sent out an email scolding students for their irresponsible behavior. However, today our leaders acted in their own self-interest disregarding the safety of our campus community.

While it is easy to blame off-campus house parties for outbreaks of COVID-19, it is evident that this pandemic is a product of and perpetuated by irresponsible leadership by our government, and as of today, our university.

 

John is a doctoral student at the University of Illinois.

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