While Ohio State is allowing its players to choose whether or not to return to campus; the school is making sure give itself legal protection. Anyone choosing to come back on a voluntary basis will need to read and sign a two-page document; acknowledging the risk of contracting COVID-19.
Called the “Buckeye Pledge,” the document asks players to “pledge to take responsibility for my own health and help stop the spread of the COVID-19.”
The waiver also warns players that despite the university taking all necessary measures to fight the spread of Coronavirus; the player’s “can never be completely shielded from all risk of illness caused by COVID-19 or other infections.”
College sports teams are not professionals; they player’s aren’t (officially) paid, and the schools can’t require student-athletes to return under the current conditions. The school says refusal to return and sign the won’t effect the scholarship status of any student-athletes; but there is the obvious pressure of losing standing and playing time to individuals who decide to make the voluntary return.
Monday is the first day football players are allowed back into workout facilities; with men’s and women’s basketball team members eligible to begin coming back next week.
As the waiver says, the school has implemented safety measures of their own to stop or at least limit the spread of the virus amongst returning athletes. Players are subject to regular virus testing, and are required to stay home if they feel sick or display a fever higher than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit. If a player does test positive, they’ll need to self-isolate for a two week period before coming back to training.
The comeback is part of a hope that the college football season can happen as normally as possible; at least where the schedule is concerned.
Ohio State isn’t the only school experimenting with returning athletes this month. UNC Chapel Hill is implementing a staggered approach to the return of its football players.
“Each person that comes into the football building will be tested upon their first time back,” said athletic director Bubba Cunningham on 60 Minutes. “We feel like the plan that we have in place is a very safe plan. It’s one that we can execute and it’s one that we can modify, should we need to.”
The University of Alabama has also brought some players back, but are already dealing with positive test results from multiple players.
“Resources and protocols are in place to ensure they receive the best medical care when returning to campus. Due to privacy laws we cannot share information specific to the health of our student-athletes.”