Dear Athletic Support: My son’s senior football season is right around the corner. He’s so excited, but also a little scared. He’s scared because of the new surge in COVID cases happening in our state. I must say, I’m a little worried too. I’m worried because I’ve seen how hard he’s worked for this year. He plays offensive line and has always been a backup until now. As much as I want this season to happen in a regular fashion, I’m also a little concerned about the way his coach has been talking about all of it lately. This coach has taken it upon himself to urge the boys to go get their vaccine, stating that this is the best chance the team has at having a “regular” season. I’m not saying I’m for or against the vaccine, I’m just saying I don’t think it’s this coach’s place to be talking about something like that. This is a choice each family should make. As much as I want my son to enjoy his senior season, I’m not willing to sit back and let this coach try and tell us what to do. What do you think? Should coaches be pushing the vaccine?
— Don’t Push Me
Dear Don’t Push: I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. I’m not a medical professional, but I do have an opinion when it comes to coaches talking about the vaccine.
It’s a coach’s job to do what’s best for his team. He is working “in loco parentis,” which is Latin legal jargon for, “in place of the parent.” What this means is when minor children are entrusted by parents to a school, the parents delegate to the school certain responsibilities for their children, and the school has certain liabilities. In other words, when a coach is with his players, he should be doing what is best for them at all times.
And getting your kid vaccinated is what’s best for him. It’s what’s best for the team. What’s best for our country. It’s a big deal, and there’s more on the line here than just another lost football season. We’re losing people to this virus, every single day.
And the reason we’re losing so many people is because they’re still not vaccinated.
I said I wasn’t a medical professional, but I am married to one. My wife is a pediatric nurse practioner. She’s read more studies on this stuff than I can count, and the numbers do not lie.
Unvaccinated people are the reason we’re seeing this latest surge in cases, and people are dying as a result.
So where does your son’s coach come in? Why is it okay for him to tell the boys what to do when it comes to what seems like such a personal decision?
Because not getting the vaccine is dangerous, and when a coach is acting in loco parentis, it’s his job to warn his players of any and all of life’s hazards.
Let me put it to you this way. Would you be up in arms if this coach were preaching to his boys about the inherent risks of drinking and driving?
No, I’m guessing you wouldn’t.
Drunk driving killed a little over 10,000 people last year. Compare that to the 345,000 people who died from COVID in 2020 and the disparity is staggering.
The numbers don’t lie, and thankfully, neither does your son’s coach. Maybe if more coaches and people in positions of power around our country decided to take the same stance, we would finally come together and beat COVID once and for all.
Eli Cranor is a former professional quarterback and coach turned award-winning author. Send questions for “Athletic Support” to firstname.lastname@example.org