Experts worry colleges and universities are using students-athletes as 'guinea pigs' before completely re-opening

Clemson Memorial Stadium.
(Image credit: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Coronavirus cases are on the rise in several states, and early indications are that, in some cases, the spikes are connected to younger people frequenting bars and holding large gatherings.

Per The New York Times, at least 100 cases on Friday were linked to employees and customers in a Baton Rouge, Louisiana, nightlife district near Louisiana State University's campus, while several infections could be traced to fraternity parties in Oxford, Mississippi, home to the University of Mississippi. This raises questions for colleges and universities to re-open in the fall. A few schools are trying to see what works as they welcome back student-athletes, many of whom have recently been infected.

Several universities, like The Ohio State University and the University of Missouri, are requiring student-athletes to sign pledges before they begin using team facilities during the pandemic. While some, like the one presented by Southern Methodist University, directly ask the athletes to acknowledge the COVID-19 risk associated with training, others are more vague, prompting legal scholars to warn the unpaid student-athletes to keep their "guards up to what the universities and lawyers are attempting to do."

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Either way, Karen Weaver, an associate professor of sports management at Drexel University, worries "that in some situations athletes are being used sort of as guinea pigs to demonstrate what we can and can't do as we bring regular students back to campus." Read more at The Associated Press.

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Tim O'Donnell

Tim is a staff writer at The Week and has contributed to Bedford and Bowery and The New York Transatlantic. He is a graduate of Occidental College and NYU's journalism school. Tim enjoys writing about baseball, Europe, and extinct megafauna. He lives in New York City.