Coronavirus Opinion

The health of student-athletes is worth more than $75M

Justin Tijerina/The Cougar

Justin Tijerina/The Cougar

The University of Houston has reported that six student-athletes have tested positive for coronavirus after workouts started on June 1, which is sadly not shocking. 

Workouts stopped after the sixth case was announced, but it is way too little and far too late. According to the University’s announcement, the voluntary workouts were suspended “out of an abundance of caution.” 

However, if the University really was being abundantly cautious, they would have ordered mandatory testing for any student athlete taking part in training or workouts before they actually participated but they didn’t

Student-athletes were recklessly put in harm’s way in order to prepare for a season that should not even be happening. 

It seems like the University has been prioritizing economic revenue over students’ health.

Between offering face-to-face courses, to reopening housing and dining and now exposing student-athletes, one could be inclined to believe that UH is pushing for students to return to campus in order to profit from them. 

There is no reason to charge full tuition if campus is closed; we pay at least $500 in mandatory fees that are used for on-campus services, which most would not be justified if classes were fully online. 

UH athletics is also a huge source of revenue for the University, bringing in $75.05 million in 2018-19 and it is reasonable that the administration would want to keep the ball rolling into 2020-21, but putting the health of student-athletes and non-athletes at risk is not worth it.

We are all extremely eager to go back to normal and return to our college life, but we have to think of our health first. 

Even though student-athletes tend to be healthy and less likely to be at high risk of severe illness, the long term effects of COVID-19 are not yet known and gambling with the health and future careers of these young athletes is not worth the risk. 

There are speculations and preliminary results of semi-long term effects of this virus, but due to its novelty, nothing is certain. 

To not test student-athletes who intended on participating in school workouts was a negligent decision by the University.

Although there was a low number of cases prior to when the workouts began, not testing was still incredibly risky and resulted in at least seven athletes contracting the virus. 

As of this moment, neither campus administration nor the athletics department have acknowledged this negligence or have taken responsibility for not requiring and providing testing for student athletes.

It is time for them to own up to their mistakes and address this issue and maybe consider prioritizing the health of their students before profits.

For more of The Cougar’s coronavirus coverage, click here.

Gina Medina is a journalism senior who can be reached at [email protected]

Correction: A previous version of this column said UH has reported seven cases of the coronavirus among student-athletes. The University has confirmed six, while a seventh was later reported by multiple outlets

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