PAC-12 football player demands way out of line

I am alarmed. Upset. Disappointed. College athletics are in for tough times. To add to all the disarray with Coronavirus and racial protesting, now we have player demands.

A group of unnamed players from the PAC-12 (hiding behind their anonymity) has presented the National Collegiate Players Association with a list of demands. Not a wish list, but demands. A document called The Players Tribune includes expanded medical insurance for players, consistent COVID-19 safety standards monitored by an independent third party. They also want initiatives to address “racial injustice,” including special financial aid for Black players.

They also demand the freedom to  earn money for use of their name, image, and likeness rights. On top of that they are asking that 50 percent of conference revenue be distributed to athletes.

May be just one more of those crazy West Coast ideas that hopefully is ignored by the rest of the country. Definitely sounds like some people need to get back to the classroom in a hurry, the sooner the better. 

College athletes, especially during the Coronavirus crisis, are treated like royalty, receiving recognition and benefits that other college students can only dream about. One can argue that college athletes are much better off at school than they are at home. Their housing, training and meals are carefully monitored, and they are kept away from other students to avoid infections. Each player is getting his or her temperature checked daily and they are tested for the virus on a regular basis.

These athletes are provided with a nice dorm in which to live. Three meals a day and superb medical treatment, including a free college education valued at between $20,000 to $30,000 per year, along with meal money and attendance stipends. They also receive the best coaching possible to prepare them for professional careers. Modern day athletes have it better than at any time in history. 

As for COVID-19, one can’t continue to shy away from the fact that there are many diseases that have affected the general population for decades.  Do we need a vaccine.? Yes. ASAP. Do we live in a bubble until we find a cure. No. Fight it. Social distance. Wear a mask. We can navigate through this. Influenza kills more people in a year than covid.

As for social injustice, there may or may not be some legitimate concerns. I have applauded individuals and groups for supporting their beliefs during the demonstrations. However, using  the college football season or any other sports season would be the wrong way for athletes to address social issues. Problems that have accumulated over decades are not going to be fixed in the just three or four weeks. 

What scares me the most is the possibility of a player revolt against the schools. Let’s get real, folks. The threats couldn’t come at a worse possible time, carrying with them the possibility of wreaking total chaos with college athletics. 

Terrible timing, with little understanding of the consequences.

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Ed Peak

Ed Peak has covered UofL sports since 1973, as a student reporter, as a correspondent for the Courier-Journal, a freelancer for the Associated Press and United Press International, as well as ScoreCard, Fox Sports and CBS radio.