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Big changes coming to the sports world

By Joseph Hayes

You can see it everywhere.

In the headlines. On television and nearly everywhere you look that involves sports.

Big changes appear to be coming.

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So much rhetoric has been fed to us to treat the coronavirus differently from every sickness or disease that has ever appeared.

Even to the point of shutting down entire societies.

If you wondered how far it could go, just look at how all of the major sports seasons were closed down.

Now look what appears to be occurring with the treatment of college athletics.

In the past several weeks, I have interviewed athletes such as Hannah and Hayley Delor of Marysville and Daveyon Henderson of Richmond that had to abruptly change course on their educational decisions because their schools shut down during the pandemic.

Now we see even more programs are being affected in some way.

On Wednesday, the Ohio State University football program released a statement saying: “The Ohio State University Department of Athletics has paused all voluntary workouts on campus following the results of its most recent COVID-19 testing of student-athletes. Seven teams’ workouts are affected by this pause: men’s and women’s basketball, field hockey, football, men’s and women’s soccer and women’s volleyball. 

“The University is not sharing cumulative COVID-19 information publicly as it could lead to the identification of specific individuals and compromise their medical privacy. If a student-athlete tests positive for COVID-19, he/she will self-isolate for at least 14 days and receive daily check-ups from the Department of Athletics medical staff. Student-athletes living alone will isolate in their residence. If they have roommates, they will self-isolate in a designated room on campus. The health and safety of our student-athletes is always our top priority.”

Then on Thursday, the Big Ten announced a conference only sports schedule that will surely send ripple effects throughout the sports world.

“If the Conference is able to participate in fall sports (men’s and women’s cross country, field hockey, football, men’s and women’s soccer, and women’s volleyball) based on medical advice, it will move to Conference-only schedules in those sports,” the Big Ten said.

“By limiting competition to other Big Ten institutions, the Conference will have the greatest flexibility to adjust its own operations throughout the season and make quick decisions in real-time based on the most current evolving medical advice and the fluid nature of the pandemic.”

The Ivy League Conference also announced that it would not allow any sports to be played until after January 1 because of the coronavirus.

The conference hopes that the sport of football can be moved to the spring. That is similar to what we have heard from the state of Michigan as it has recently discussed moving football on the high school level with the Michigan High School Athletic Association.

Meanwhile at Stanford University, they announced their decision to cut 11 of the 36 varsity sports following the 2020-21 season.

That includes the men’s and women’s fencing programs, field hockey, lightweight rowing, men’s rowing, co-ed and women’s sailing, squash, the synchronized swimming program, men’s volleyball and wrestling.

All of the changes around the country show just how much the spread of fear can affect a country.

Not only is it changing how we all see daily life, it is also changing many of the opportunities athletes will experience as they go throughout their careers.

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