Players are “heading in the right direction” with vaccinations

MUNCIE, Ind. – Less than a month before Ball State Football Team open fall camp, Mid-American Conference Commissioner Jon Steinbrecher spoke on the MAC Football Media Day about the importance of getting vaccinated against COVID-19.

While Steinbrecher raved about the low positivity rate of MAC football athletes last season, he also pointed out that the pandemic was not over. Shortly after calling members of MAC’s medical advisory group “superstars,” he touched on the delta variant and how it can affect those who aren’t vaccinated. He didn’t mince words when he said, “Unvaccinated participants are in danger and their team is in danger.

Steinbrecher stressed that unvaccinated athletes will need to be subjected to a testing protocol and other realities. He encouraged anyone who didn’t to see their doctor and get vaccinated. There is no requirement for athletes to be vaccinated, but he noted that “if you cannot play the game, we will not reschedule the game and the game will be canceled.”

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Last week, after BSU’s first fall practice, BSU football coach Mike Neu said his team opened the fall camp with 118 athletes – the most he said he had had. . And although he declined to provide an exact percentage of the proportion of his team vaccinated, he did provide insight into where the team was.

“We have guys who are in this process right now when they got their second injection, they’re just not two weeks away from the second injection, so you can’t count them in the full shot count,” said Neu Aug. 4. “But we are moving in the right direction here. I’m going to say it’s high 70s, low 80s, somewhere over there. “

Mid-American Conference Commissioner Jon Steinbrecher on March 12, 2020.

According to roster veterans offensive lineman Anthony Todd and inside linebacker Brandon Martin, both of whom have said they are vaccinated, Ball State coaching staff are not actively lobbying players to get out of the game. get vaccinated. Todd said coaches have left that choice to the athletes. Todd, who has said he doesn’t know how many of his teammates have been vaccinated, thinks coaches would likely prefer players to be vaccinated.

There have been coaches who in recent months have talked about the fact that players on a team get vaccinated as a “competitive advantage”; to see James Franklin of Penn State and Jedd Fisch from Arizona. As Neu would say, there’s nothing he can do if someone needs to get into a testing protocol or needs to be quarantined for a while. Neu just wants his athletes to make the best decision for themselves and know he is supporting them.

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Todd said he got the shot because it made things “easier” because it meant he didn’t have to worry about it. He pointed the finger at another team from the MAC team that missed several games last season due to complications from COVID-19, saying “you would hate it to happen to us”. Todd just wants to focus on football, given that this will be his last season with the program, and not deal with the COVID-19 distractions that have come with the 2020 campaign.

Neu said just because his team were lucky enough to stay at full power last year, doesn’t mean we’ll automatically stay at full power in 2021.

“It gets even harder to keep preaching, ‘Make good social sacrifices,’ and we’re all sick of being inside all day every day and you’re in college – you’re in. ‘once in your life university,’ said Neu, who said last month he was vaccinated. “But we have to keep preaching the same message and keep hoping that our guys who are leaders, our guys who are veterans – that’s what it is. These are the times when we are and we just have to, we all have to do our part to help. “

Martin made a similar comment: “Just like we did last year – I mean, there was no vaccine. We have to make sure that we stay careful about who we are and things like that. So it’s kind of the same last year, just making sure we stay disciplined that way. “

Ball State Football held its first fall practice at Scheumann Stadium on Wednesday, August 4, 2021.

Neu and Martin both said that earlier this year, during what Neu called the team’s ‘summer phase’, someone was asked to speak with the players about the possibility. to get vaccinated. Neu said he was unable to answer questions from a medical point of view, so having someone who could be a valuable resource for players with questions. Neu declined to say exactly who this person was “out of respect” for that person, but said they were someone associated with the university.

Neu said he “wanted to put in front of them someone who has done a lot of research on this and has a lot of experience and training,” so that’s what happened.

“It was really productive,” said Martin, “and gave us the opportunity to learn a lot more about it and educate ourselves on it.”

Jordan Guskey covers Ball State High School and East Central Indiana at The Star Press. Contact him at 765-213-5813, [email protected] or on Twitter at @JordanGuskey.

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