Should There Be a Different Standard for the Return of College Sports vs. the Pros?

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The NBA and MLB are poised for a return this summer, and the NFL is acting as if things are business as usual. But what about college sports—particularly college football, which takes place in the fall? In the video above, Sports Illustrated host Robin Lundberg talked with Chaunte'l Powell of Gamecock Digest and Glen West of LSU Country about how programs are proceeding and asked whether the standard for college sports to be played should be different than those for their professional counterparts.

In addition to Powell and West's thoughts, three more of SI's team reporters weighed in on the question below.

Brooks Austin, DawgsDaily:

The answer to this question clearly begins with the absence of compensation for collegiate athletes, but to me, it's much more of a conversation about the difference in the protection of the athletes between college and professional sports. At least at the professional level, there's at least enough funding to test, trace, and treat each individual case along with providing an equal level of protection for all of the athletes involved. On the collegiate level, however, every program has a different method of taking precautionary measures along with a different level of funding. 

Ahmed Ghafir, AllTerrapins:

There’s a distinct difference to me. Professional athletes have a contractual agreement to play the sport and in return, they’re largely compensated with a pair of commas for their annual salary. There is a stronger sense of individual responsibility in pro sports to act as responsible adults. College…not so much. The responsibility ultimately sits with the university when it comes to student-athletes. The difference between reopening college versus professional sports stems from the decision for colleges as a whole to reopen this fall. University officials are partnering with state government authorities as they determine their respective plans to reopen schools, but the fate of college sports lies in the ultimate decision to approve reopening each school. In no circumstance can I see college sports continuing if all students don’t return to campus—otherwise, doesn’t that defy the definition of a student-athlete? Professional teams also have the ability to reopen or close their respective facilities if they choose, just as the Denver Nuggets did on Tuesday, whereas college teams can’t just close their facilities with a campus full of students. There’s more risk to reopening college than professional sports.

John Hoover, AllSooners:

College and professional sports should have different standards for returning to play from the pandemic. The most fundamental basis for this is that student-athletes are part of a far larger campus community and cannot be sequestered to the extent a professional sports franchise can sequester its players. As part of the everyday campus community, and as athletes who also have classroom responsibilities, their exposure will be far greater. Also, the athletes everyone thinks of in college—football and basketball players—frequently socialize with athletes from other sports. College sports is just too large, too broad to hold to the same standards as professional sports.