To return to something I touched on in yesterday’s post about Notre Dame’s Father Jenkins, this strikes me as the gist of college football’s pandemic dilemma:
“Universities are operating in a realm of bad choices,” said Aron Cramer, the president of Business for Social Responsibility, a nonprofit that encourages businesses to implement ethical frameworks that serve the greater good. Cramer added that the decision about whether to play “ultimately places into sharp relief questions of what a university is all about to begin with.”
At the heart of those questions are ethical considerations: How do universities assess risk for their players, what dollar value do they place on it and what voice should athletes have in the decisions?
As of now, we don’t know the answer to the first two parts of that question and if athletes have been given a voice in the decisions, if only to the level of being consulted about the risks involved and being asked to respond, I’ve yet to hear a college administrator say so.
“In the N.C.A.A. and with other amateurs, players don’t have a strong voice and have a union. Their voice is always suppressed,” said McDonald, who added that only a select few players might have the platform to influence safety measures. “I’m not Joe Burrow; I’m just a tight end at Florida State…”
Which isn’t to say he wants to stay away from his teammates.
Yet McDonald is eager to work out with his teammates even though he watched one of them, offensive lineman Andrew Boselli, recover from the virus from afar. “If it came down to health or football, everybody would choose health 100 percent of the time,” McDonald said. “I want it to be as safe as possible, but losing a football season would be a worst-case scenario.”
A similar attitude can be heard from Mississippi State’s new starting quarterback.
“If the locker room is together we’re really not going to bat an eye; that’s the bond you have with your teammates — people are going to joke around. That’s the locker room culture,” Costello said. “Now, if a guy or two gets sick, it’s going to be a different story. If somebody gets coronavirus in the locker room and some other guy has symptoms, is everybody freaking out? It will be a joke until two, three, four guys get it, and then it’s out of control.”
Still, Costello said his biggest concern was simply not passing the virus on to his 90-year-old grandmother. There will have to be a substantial outbreak — such as what occurred in places in March, he said — for college football to be shut down.
“It’s a commitment to a lifestyle, a certain work ethic. Most football players have less fear about this than anybody else,” Costello said when asked if he feels like a guinea pig. “We’ll put our trust in the institution — we know their reputation is on the line, so we’ll trust that it’s enough to keep students out of harm’s way.”