Ex-Coach: No Way to Play in Fall Without Vaccine First

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Karen Weaver coached at the Division I and III levels for 16 years and nearly twice that amount of time on college campuses — "more time on road trips, at practices, in training rooms, weight rooms, team meeting rooms, and other athletic facilities than most people," she says in a recent article for Forbes titled "Without A Vaccine, There Is No Way College Athletes Can Play This Fall."

Weaver, who won a field hockey national title at Division III Salisbury before leading Ohio State to its first NCAA bid, says university decision-makers need to take a granular look at the issue of returning athletes to campus.

"Consider this: from the time they arrive for preseason practice until the end of the season, college athletes are in the same physical space with someone, or something touched by many other human beings," she writes. "Think about these areas of a practice facility alone:

·     The equipment room — all equipment is stored and washed every day in one area for multiple teams-how will that area be sanitized? Tested?

·     A training room — tables and carts, machines, whirlpools, scales, floors, doors — how many times a day will all surfaces be wiped down?

·     Weight rooms — cleaning staff will need to follow behind every athlete to clean each weight bench, strength machine, platform, stretching station and treadmill;

·     Team bus travel — see picture above."

Interaction on and off the field will create a cycle of potential contagion, she argues. 

"If a typical fall season hosts five sports and 200 athletes, these facilities will be busy at least 12 hours a day, 6 days a week," Weaver writes. "But the contact points don’t stop there. The practice fields are full of contact points; the equipment and game balls are touched by everyone at some point. How do you clean those?

"For those athletes who don’t have access to athlete only dining halls, they will travel back to campus to eat. Will every single food worker be temperature tested every day?

"From there, they travel to their residence halls or apartments. Again, more contact points. Who do their roommates interact with? Who cleans the apartment? Are the dishes cleaned at a temperature that kills the bacteria? Does anyone accidentally share glasses or silverware? And what do they do between the time they arrive home and the next practice? Go out with friends? And the cycle continues."

Weaver, an associate clinical professor of sport management at Drexel University who serves as a consultant for the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics, urges, "We have to be smarter than this."

"I struggled to write this article," she concludes. "It’s tough to be so blunt with something that is so invisible. But we are supposed to be intelligent leaders. We are supposed to care deeply about our student’s health and well-being. If we bring college athletes back to campus before it is really, truly safe, we are allowing them to be human Guinea pigs. And that’s just not right."

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