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Pac-12 football players threaten to opt out over coronavirus, other concerns

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Wide receiver Frank Darby #84 of the Arizona State Sun Devils catches a 26 yard touchdown reception against the Oregon Ducks during the second half of the NCAAF game at Sun Devil Stadium on November 23, 2019 in Tempe, Arizona.

A group of collegiate Pac-12 Conference football players have threatened to opt out of their respective schools’ upcoming seasons if concerns over preventing the transmission of the coronavirus are not addressed.

A letter posted on The Players’ Tribune signed by “Players of the Pac-12” and 13 named players informed league officials that players were united in their threat to sit out the season for numerous reasons, including being “asked to play college sports in a pandemic in a system without enforced health and safety standards, and without transparency about COVID cases on our teams, the risks to ourselves, our families, and our communities.”

“NCAA sports exploit college athletes physically, economically and academically, and also disproportionately harm Black college athletes,” the letter continued.

Arizona State player Cody Shear, an offensive lineman, told The Associated Press that as many as 400 players were involved in a GroupMe conversation that had led to the letter.

“I can’t give you a number, but there’s an abundance of players that are messaging in that GroupMe consistently. It feels like the phone’s blowing up every second,” he told the AP.

Among the players’ demands are a number of guidelines related to stopping the spread of the coronavirus as well as measures meant to cut administrative costs, especially among league officials’ salaries, and provisions to distribute league earnings among players.

“We should be included in equitably sharing the revenue our talents generate, especially in a pandemic,” the players argued.

Professional, collegiate and other leagues have faced questions about playing games, especially contact sports, in the fall as students return to in-person learning at some schools across the country while the coronavirus pandemic continues to rage across the U.S. 

In recent days, more than a dozen MLB games have been postponed or canceled, the Miami Marlins temporarily suspended their 2020 season due to a coronavirus outbreak among team members and staff.

Tags Coronavirus COVID-19 Pac-12 conference

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