College and professional athletes continue to opt-out amid COVID-19

Published 4:21 pm Tuesday, August 4, 2020

     As the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to escalate in the United States, there are daily reports of athletes who are not willing to
take the chances of bringing the virus upon themselves or their families electing to take the season off for the sake of safety.
     Those athletes are not just professional athletes either as rising college athletes who have a great chance of being drafted in their respective sport are opting to sit out the season challenging coaches to revamp their depth charts and starting lineups on the fly.
     It certainly is understandable as some of these athletes come from a home life that if it weren’t for the scholarship they received to play their particular sport wouldn’t have even been presented the opportunity to showcase their skills to those on the professional level and gain the opportunity to help support their families.
     A lot of times when we see or hear of these athletes that make these tough decisions, but when one sees the reasoning behind their tough and many times agonizing choice, it becomes clearer.
     Take for example Denver Broncos offensive tackle Ja’Wuan James who played collegiately at Tennessee before being drafted by the Miami Dolphins in 2014.
     James informed the Broncos that he was opting-out of the 2020 season due to the birth of his newborn in May and felt it best to protect his family.
     While the decision heavily impacts his team, sometimes priorities in life override playing a game and in this case, James made that decision. 
     Everyone agrees that this has been a crazy year all the way around with businesses forced to close their doors, families having to say goodbyes to their deceased loved ones without a proper funeral and burial, schools trying to wade through the deep mire of returning back to a new school year, and sports being turned on its ear by COVID-19.
    No decision has come easy in 2020 and when grandchildren grow up what a story they will have to tell their families about this craziness.
    Like the story of New York Mets star slugger Yoenis Céspedes who was playing with his team in Atlanta over the weekend.
    Cespedes played the first two games on Friday and Saturday, but when it was time for the team to go to the stadium on Sunday, he was nowhere to be found as only an empty room greeted those checking on him.
    No one had a clue about his whereabouts until team general manager Brodie Van Wagenen announced his decision not to play anymore in 2020 due to the COVID-19.
    The decision not to play could be understandable but how the slugger handled it was not as he didn’t inform anyone about his decision before he just left the hotel.
    Can players use the COVID-19 as an excuse if they are not playing up to par?
    Of course they can and hopefully, instances like this are few and far in between but when you are playing on a professional level, you owe it to your team and fans to handle this in a better manner.
    I feel confident that there will be many more memorable events that will take place before COVID-19 can finally be put to bed once and for all if that is at all possible.
    Books will be written and movies made, but one thing is for sure – if you have lived through a pandemic there shouldn’t be any doubt there will be stories to be told whether good, bad, or ugly for generations to come.

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