SEC Zoom Call Audio Draws Criticisms

Greg Arias

Over the weekend, the Washington Post released audio from a Zoom call between Southeastern Conference officials and players from various programs around the league where those players shared concerns over the coming season during a pandemic. 

The fact that the conference is allowing players to participate in discussions that directly impact them is commendable. Still, when the leaked audio became public, some believe the conference fumbled their response. 

"College football’s most powerful conference, the SEC, announced Thursday that it plans to forge ahead with a season this fall. But a day earlier, in a private meeting with conference leaders and medical advisers, several football players raised concerns about their safety, only to be told that positive cases on their teams were a “given,” according to an audio recording obtained by The Washington Post.

"The meeting, which took place Wednesday, included more than a dozen SEC football players, members of the conference’s medical advisory board and SEC officials, including Commissioner Greg Sankey. It was designed as a “confidential free exchange,” an SEC spokesman said in an email to the Post, in which the league’s medical advisers could “hear questions and our student-athletes were able to hear answers.”

There's no doubt that the audio paints the conference in a negative light. However, that :29-second clip shared in this article is only part of the entire statement made by the league official. Hearing the whole discussion in its entirety could lead to a different context than the one coming from this clip. 

I'm not attempting to portray anyone in any light here, and there is little doubt that Robert Klemko, and Emily Giambalvo, who penned the article in question were correct when writing this in the report.   

"But the recording offers a window into how conference officials — keen on keeping a multibillion-dollar industry afloat amid the novel coronavirus pandemic — are and aren’t reassuring the athletes they need to make the season a reality.?

The conference and its athletic director's jobs are to keep the multibillion-dollar business churning. No one would deny that fact, but that's what they are being paid to do to keep their league profitable. Those dollars from the league help those schools continue to fund non-revenue producing sports. 

Did the audio sound uncaring? Yes, it did, but again context is crucial, and this clip could well be taken in a different light if shared in its entirety.   

Unless the entire conference call is played publicly, we will forever be left with that:29-seconds that makes the conference look bad, when that might, or might not be the entire story. 

In all, there were four clips shared in the Post article, and the context and questions asked by the players are poignant. Players have every right to be concerned, and their voices being heard by the conference is how it should be handled, but in the end, players have the opt-out option at their disposal should their concerns outweigh their desire to play. 

We all want to see these student-athletes perform. We enjoy watching them, but I'm all for those with concerns sitting it out and for those who wish to participate in doing so. 

Freedom is what our nation is built on, where we, as individuals, are allowed to make such decisions for ourselves based on our knowledge and self-interests. No players are being forced to participate in my understanding, nor should they be, and as long as they have options, everyone knows where things stand for both sides. 

Follow Greg on Twitter @GregAriasSports and @SIVanderbilt or on Facebook at Vanderbilt Commodores-Maven.

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