AuthorZirin, Dave

Agroundbreaking study in September of student athletes who had tested positive for COVID-19 at Ohio State University determined that 30 percent had cellular heart damage and 15 percent showed signs of heart inflammation caused by a condition known as myocarditis.

This study, undertaken by researchers at Ohio State, has massive implications for collegiate sports during the ongoing pandemic. And yet, at the time of It's release, it stirred little to no reaction. Even many sports reporters, myself included, had never even heard of it.

But now, as the college football season has drawn to a close, the study has been picked up by major and minor news outlets. It was almost as if college football mavens and their stenographers on the sports pages chose to not address It's findings until the season was done and all the billions of dollars in broadcast rights checks were cashed.

Revenue-producing sports like football and basketball are intrinsic to the running of the modern neoliberal university. They are the rickety tentpole that keeps the ceiling of athletic departments from crashing down. They also underwrite the multimillion-dollar salaries of college football and basketball coaching staff.

It's a racket, and it's the athletes-disproportionately Black who carry the burden. They take the weight of expectation, success, and failure of a given program without a salary, without a union, without guaranteed health care, and without any of the other benefits that most workers could expect. Instead, they are paid by being given a warped version of an "education," where they are told what classes to take and that their scholarship could be ended on the whim of a coach. Even in the best of times, college athletics is a rotten system-one that treats these very young athletes like a combination of campus gods and corporate chattel.

Now, in the age of COVID-19, these "student athletes"-a term created by NCAA lawyers in 1957 to avoid paying a settlement to the wife of a football player killed by injuries suffered on the field-are considered "essential workers." They have somehow been placed in the same category as frontline health-care workers, meatpacking-plant workers, and other people deemed indispensable to the economy.

The difference-aside from their lack of pay and workers' rights-is that college athletes are not wearing any kind...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT