As the world begins to climb out of the Covid-19 pandemic that made it feel as if the earth had stopped spinning. One of the biggest questions in college as well as professional sports is whether or not governing institutions will require players and staff to be vaccinated.
This past Tuesday we got a little insight on the answer to that question when the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, which competes in Division II, announced that all players and staff are required to be vaccinated prior to the upcoming year. The ruling also requires referees, band members, cheerleaders, and all other auxiliary groups to get vaccinated as well.
It is worth noting that the conference will allow for exemptions for religious or medical reasons, provided they are approved by the university campus. All players who receive an exemption from the vaccine will be required to submit to frequent Covid-19 tests.
The move comes as part of an effort to reduce the number of games canceled and players assigned to health and safety protocols due to positive Covid-19 tests. The most recent and notable example comes as the NC State Baseball was forced to forfeit out of the College World Series due to positive tests, after being just one win away from the final.
Given a large amount of data that shows getting vaccinated can greatly reduce transmission of Covid-19, and with cases on the rise, it is not surprising to see conferences moving towards mandated vaccination. That being said, not a single one of the Power 5 FBS conferences has enforced a similar protocol.
Prior to this announcement, the SEC informed teams that once 85
Despite all these new regulations and mandates, it will be interesting to see what percentage of athletes still refuse to receive the vaccine. We have already seen professional athletes such as Buffalo Bills Wide Receiver Cole Beasley speak out against the vaccine with statements such as, "I may die of covid, but I'd rather die actually living,".
This serves as an example of the polarity surrounding this virus and its respective vaccine. As a divided country chooses how to rebuild a post-quarantine society, the question of whether to vaccinate or not to vaccinate will be a hotly contested one. And as usual, the sports world will serve as a major role model to fans and other institutions seeking guidance in a time when not many people seem to have it.
Will the major college powerhouses follow the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference? And will players widely embrace mandatory vaccination? I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.