Herriman Mustangs cheerleaders display the American flag before a game against the Davis Darts, the first regular season football game in the United States since the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic began, at Herriman High School in Herriman, Utah, U.S. August 13, 2020. REUTERS/George Frey TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

THE NEUTRAL ZONE

Sports are back, but who knows for how long? Most organizations are giving players the option to “opt-out” in recognition of putting player safety first due to the coronavirus. From the little league to the big leagues, parameters have been put into place to ensure the safety of those playing the game, however, there is still a degree of risk of contracting COVID-19. Multiple pro games have been postponed or canceled due to players and staff reporting positive cases. The snowball effect of players deciding to opt-out began when the Miami Marlins reported that 18 players and two coaches contracted the virus after the season started.

Even though the NFL season has yet to begin, the league has already seen several players releasing statements saying they will not play this year. Some players are asking the NFL to halt the season altogether. Recently, the NFL also altered the deadline date for players wanting to opt-out of the season. New England Patriots defensive back Devin McCourty stated, “It’s an absolute joke that the NFL is changing the opt-out period, mainly because they don’t want to continue to see guys opt out.” No official statements have been made on whether any professional sports will stop for the year, but the question will loom over many as the coronavirus pandemic continues.

MEDIA PERSPECTIVE

More athletes opt out as U.S. struggles with coronavirus – Axios – 8/2/2020
The pandemic continues to disrupt the world of sports, despite many fans hoping that a return for the major leagues would spell some semblance of normalcy for other aspects of life.

Teams worry that opt-out privilege isn’t being used in good faith – ProFootballTalk – 8/2/2020
The NFL reportedly wants to shorten the deadline for opting out. The desire to give players less time to decide on playing in 2020 comes from at least two specific concerns.

MMQB: 2020 Training Camp Makes Roster Building Harder – Sports Illustrated – 8/3/2020
In order to accommodate a 90-man roster and the healthy appetites that go along with your average NFL player, the Bears set up tables just outside the cafeteria at recently-renovated Halas Hall. They allow for space, and these days being in an open-air setting is always preferable to being under a roof, so this is for sure a measure to combat COVID-19.

Caleb Farley Calls Opting out of 2020 CFB Season ‘Toughest Decision of My Life’ – Bleacher Report – 8/3/2020
Farley is expected to be a first-round pick and was the first major collegiate star to opt out of the season over COVID-19 concerns. A combination of unsafe conditions, including a lack of testing and teammates not wearing masks, led to Farley’s decision.

INFLUENCER PERSPECTIVE

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