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#pounditThursday, October 1, 2020

Mike Gundy hopes his college football staff, players can return next month

Mike Gundy

Mike Gundy spoke with the media on a conference call Tuesday and laid out an optimistic timeline for his college football program resuming. He also angered many in the process with some of his comments.

Gundy said that with more testing and clearance from health experts, he is hoping that around May 1, athletic department employees/college football staff members would be able to begin working again. He is also hoping that the players would be able to return at some point thereafter.

Central to Gundy’s stance is the important role football plays in the economy — especially in the state of Oklahoma — and the need to have games again.

Some felt like the Oklahoma State Cowboys coach is risking the health of his players because the state needs football for the economy.

At some point we (and every other country in the world) will have to begin opening up the economy and let people get back to work, otherwise the consequences of the economic shutdown will be devastating. That process has to be done in a methodical, calculated way. How the return of sports to that picture remains to be seen, but the ability to test is central to that discussion.

The problem is that there is an implicit economic tradeoff to the potential risk of working during a pandemic; workers are expected to be compensated. That is why professional sports leagues have discussions with their labor forces to allow the players to decide under what conditions they are willing to work.

And while there are many unpaid benefits to being a college football player (full scholarship at an expensive school, athletic clothing, room, board, food, training facilities, stipends), these players are students, not labor, and student-athletes should only be returning to campus for athletics once it’s determined by health experts as safe to do so.

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