The excellent explanation from Virginia Tech defensive back Caleb Farley regarding his decision to sit out the 2020 season contains specific information about the far-from-excellent efforts of Virginia Tech to handle the pandemic.
“This year at Virginia Tech, at our workouts, I started having deep concerns about staying healthy,” Farley wrote for Peter King’s Football Morning in America column. “Guys were going home, going to Myrtle Beach, coming back to campus, and we weren’t getting tested. We’re all together, working out, close to each other, and you have no real idea who might have it, if anybody might have it. One day I looked around, and we were like 100-deep in our indoor facility, no masks. My concern grew more and more.”
Via the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Virginia Tech issued this statement on Monday: “We will decline the opportunity to address Caleb’s comments directly.”
It’s a jarring portrait of negligence to the point of recklessness by Virginia Tech. And it raises real questions regarding whether other major schools have taken or will take the steps necessary to protect players and their families.
Farley gets it. Despite the dangerous media voices that rattle off the low chance of a college athlete having a bad outcome if stricken with COVID-19 without mentioning the risks associated with spreading the virus to more vulnerable family members, Farley understands that the risk isn’t solely to him, and that he could cause loved ones to get sick, or worse.
This is why the players of the Pac-12 have taken a stand, and it’s why more college football players should do the same. With the NCAA, which has a rulebook aimed at limiting anything and everything that could help players receive better treatment, unwilling to promulgate rules to protect the players, the players must take matters into their own hands.
It could get worse before it gets better. There’s a full-speed-ahead vibe coming from conferences like the ACC, the SEC, and the Pac-12, with the effort to preserve TV revenue potentially superseding safety concerns for players and their families. The Big 12 could be joining in that save-the-money parade soon. Only the Big 10 seems to be willing to consider the potential consequences of a plan that, as best we can tell, consists of closing your eyes and hoping for the best.
If there are no grown ups in the room who will stand up and say this approach isn’t acceptable, the players are the ones who need to do it — especially since the decisions currently are being made by people who surely won’t be at risk for catching or spreading COVID-19.