Ohio State football has started voluntary workouts, but before any Buckeyes started those team-sanctioned activities, they had to sign an acknowledgement of risk waiver due to COVID-19. The Columbus Dispatch obtained the waiver and reported Sunday that players were asked to sign a “Buckeye Pledge.”
That pledge commits players to following the school’s health guidelines — including participation in contact tracing efforts and reporting of exposure — and acknowledges the risk of contracting COVID-19 even while following those protocols. At Ohio State, those protocols include “submitting to coronavirus testing, reporting exposure to COVID-19, disclosing symptoms of the virus, including a fever of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, and remaining home if they feel sick.”
Ohio State is far from the only football program, school or business using that kind of waiver as it reopens following a lengthy shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic. But the Dispatch reporting shows what one of the sport’s top programs has in place for its players to enable college football to get going in time for the scheduled start of the season.
At Ohio State, all players were tested upon returning to the facility last week, and any who tested positive began a 14-day isolation and monitoring protocol. The school hasn’t released any specifics from that round of testing, citing privacy concerns.
These kinds of waivers could become a standard in college football to the extent that fans, if allowed in the stadiums at all, are asked to commit to similar acknowledgements of risk prior to their entry for home games.
For now, those decisions are too far in the future to know, but the players returning to team activities — even being voluntary in definition — are going to be asked to comply with the full scale of university risk management.