In Vice President for Student Life Jon Dooley’s email informing the student body that Elon University would be rising to Level 2, Dooley said that there was an outbreak of the coronavirus among student-athletes. Dooley went further to pinpoint the sports with clusters: football, lacrosse and baseball. The wording of his emails, to two athletes, gives athletics the brunt of the blame for going to level two, something they say is unfair.
The two athletes, who requested to be anonymous in fear of repercussion from Elon Athletics, will be addressed as Andy and Kasey to preserve their anonymity. They say that they have already felt the “stares” from the student body.
“We heard people right next to us who had our backs to me and my other teammate, and they were like, ‘did you hear about that thing about the athletes,’” Kasey said. “You walk around in a book bag that says that you're an athlete and it's kind of like everybody's looking at you even though you know that you weren't the problem.”
Kasey said they heard rumors of an increase in positive cases within athletics on Wednesday. But the first confirmation of the cases in athletics was Thursday morning when the two received a text from their coach informing them that athletics would be suspended until Monday at least.
“I was pissed,” Andy said. “I knew other athletes weren't taking it seriously, I knew athletes kind of screwed up.”
The two have said that they’ve felt a lack of appreciation from the university in the past, saying that sometimes they feel that people think the only reason student-athletes are at Elon is because of their sport. They said that now, they feel that people will think “of course it was athletics.”
“It’s ‘it wouldn’t be anyone but the athletes, they don't care about anything other than their sport and like especially the sports that are postponed right now they're like oh, they don't care they're not even playing right now,’” Kasey said. “I just feel like that’s what’s going through their heads right now.”
Since receiving the text from their coach and Dooley’s email, the two said that they have not been told anything from the athletics administration. The most recent communication Kasey and Andy have had has been between them and their coach.
“It’s almost like [administration] knows something that we don’t,” Andy said. “I told my adviser, ‘oh we’re going to try to get back to lifting next week’ and they were like ‘yeah good luck with that.’ I feel like there’s a lot of, they know what’s going on but they don’t know either how to address or when to address us.”
The two said that they did feel an element of disappointment when they learned about the clusters in athletics. They said that they felt that the season was going well and that mostly everyone was being safe. They also said that they felt some encouragement because Wednesday was the first day that practices allowed for half of a team to be present at a time.
Testing in athletics works similarly to testing for the general student population. The two athletes said the largest difference is that athletes are put in two different testing pools: the student body pool and the athletics pool. They said that they know athletes who have already been tested twice, as well as those who haven’t been tested at all.
Before entering practices, the athletes go through a screening process as well, which include temperature checks. The two athletes believe that the increase of cases started when one athlete reported having symptoms, and the dominos fell from there. They say that contact tracing has had a large impact on athletics as well.
“Contact tracing has really sucked up a lot of teams,” Andy said. “Athletes typically hang out with athletes. I know one athlete basically had 30 people on their list and it was all athletes, so that can suck up a whole team.”
They said that now, athletes will be tested more frequently, but they recognize the other lasting effects that this will have on athletics. They said that people on campus should not be judging athletics as a whole, because it was not all of athletics who added to the rise in cases.
“It kind of sucks even labeling a team. If one kid got it and then maybe sent half the team in then the other half is like, ‘oh, well, I didn't do anything’,” Kasey said. “Don't label all of athletics because there are multiple teams … that have been doing the right thing.”