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Student-athletes say they are following COVID rules despite student concern

<p>As COVID-19 cases rise in Oxford, some student are pointing the blame on Miami&#x27;s athletes. The athletes beg to differ and say they just want to play. </p>

As COVID-19 cases rise in Oxford, some student are pointing the blame on Miami's athletes. The athletes beg to differ and say they just want to play.

As COVID-19 cases spiked once again among Miami University students last week, fingers are being pointed at who is and isn’t following the rules.

At universities across the country, student-athletes are being reprimanded for failing to follow COVID-19 guidelines. With many sports on hold, some Miami students are placing blame on athletes for their perceived failure to comply with guidelines.  

In August, at least 27 student-athletes at Miami tested positive for COVID-19 after many attended a large off-campus social gathering. At the time, a blanket quarantine order was issued to all student-athletes living in Oxford and any coaches who may have come into contact with them.

This came not long after the Mid-American Conference (MAC) postponed all fall sports, although the league later announced that a limited six-game football season will begin Nov. 4. Other sports remain postponed.

One Miami student claims to have seen multiple student-athletes around his dorm not following COVID guidelines, such as wearing a mask in all public spaces.

“I’ve noticed that many of them seem to believe that they can’t be affected by [COVID], when in reality they have the most to lose,” the student, a first-year resident of Hepburn Hall, said. “It almost seems like they believe that playing for a MAC sports team makes them immune to [COVID].”

During the summer, when the season was postponed, many players did attend parties or go to bars, with a couple players testing positive, said one member of the Miami football team.

The player said that his team has been following the rules, for the most part – but only after finding out it would be playing this season.

“Once we found out that we [weren’t] having a season, we were like, ‘alright, fuck it,’” he said. “We’ll go to the bars, we’ll do this, we’ll do that.”

He also pointed out that while members of the football team continued to attend social gatherings, it wasn’t just them. Many other students and student-athletes did the same thing.

“I’m going to be honest, like during the summer when [the outbreak] happened, we were doing parties and stuff, but it wasn’t this nuts,” he said. “It was everybody … everybody was going to parties.”

He said once the updated season was announced, many of the team members stopped partying. 

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“Wee started to chill out,” he said. “We stopped going out and things like that.”

He also said because the fall season doesn’t count toward eligibility, a coach gave the players a choice: follow COVID guidelines, or take the year off if they wanted to party and live the normal college life.

“He told us plenty of times, ‘if you want to party and do [things] like a regular college student, be my guest, just let me know so we can just take you off [the team],’” he said. 

The player said the coach didn’t want to put any other players at risk of exposure from a teammate who hadn’t been following the rules.

Another member of the Miami football team said while masks are mandated throughout practice sessions and other team-centric events, not all athletes are fans of the rule.

“Regardless of their personal feelings, I think, at the end of the day, we all care about each other and we all just want to play football,” he said. “There hasn’t been any points of contention on it.”

Though other students have pointed to student-athletes as the cause for a recent spike in on-campus cases, the anonymous football player said the football team has been diligent in following university guidelines.

“From what I’ve seen, the guys I’ve been around, everyone’s been doing what they’re supposed to do,” he said. “If there were student-athletes violating those guidelines, I’d be pretty disappointed, considering that you’re putting the team and the team’s goals at risk.”