Editorial: Let the players decide

The social and political unrest over the past several weeks has caused BYU athletes, both former and current, to let their voices be heard on issues that affect the health and well-being of themselves and their families. So why don’t we take the opinions and needs of players into account not only on the issues of police brutality and racism but also a deadly pandemic?

The BYU Athletic Department has no plans to release any information regarding screenings and testing going on at voluntary practices, and that is well within their rights. But they also have no plans to slow down or halt the rapid approach of the fall athletic season — bringing football, women’s volleyball, women’s soccer and cross country to the BYU campus — despite a recent surge in COVID-19 cases in Utah and surrounding states.

To public knowledge, no BYU athlete has tested positive for COVID-19, but that didn’t stop the university and department from shutting down all athletic events from March until June. With voluntary workouts now underway and team practices beginning next month, at what point do we allow or encourage the athletes to speak up for themselves and the risks they are taking on by returning under these conditions?

There is still so much uncertainty surrounding the long-term ramifications of COVID-19, including whether one is immune after having it, as well as the effects it can have on the lungs, especially for active individuals like collegiate athletes. Some universities have required players to sign release agreements, freeing the programs of any liability should the athlete contract the virus. BYU has not announced any such agreement, but even if they do, should an athlete be required to sign it?

Athletes are starting to find their voices, and many fans and coaches have committed to listening. Let’s continue to encourage athletes and listen to and act on their concerns as questions and decisions arise in the coming weeks and months. They deserve it. After all, they’re the ones in the arena, not us.

— Caleb Turner
Universe Sports Editor

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