ANN ARBOR, Mich (WLNS) – Student-Athletes at the University of Michigan have been given a real-life crash course into how powerful their platform can be this past school year. From protesting to play football in the fall to non-violent marches for social justice, the voices of Wolverines are being listened to more than ever.
So after five positive cases of the B.1.1.7 Coronavirus variant within the Michigan Athletic Department shutdown all-sports competition for all Michigan sports teams until February 7, the student-athletes once again are speaking out.
Former Grand Ledge Comet and current senior distance runner, Christian Hubaker, started a petition on Change.org which already has over 4,300 signatures in a little over 24 hours of being posted. The coalition of student-athletes has specific requests in their statement and petition signing.
“We want them to reconsider the two-week mandate and open it up on a team by team basis based on analysis of how those teams are doing with COVID and additionally the variant,” said Hubaker. “I know there are a lot of teams on campus the overwhelming majority of teams that have had no traces of the variant at all. We would like that reconsidered and we want more transparency between the health department, what they deem is necessary, between us and them.”
Knowing how the athletes feel, we made sure to reach out to the Michigan Athletic Department and they responded with no official statement on the petition but spokesperson, Kurt Svoboda, shared a statement of support for athletes.
“The athletic department is aware of their students sharing their voices and the department is fully supportive of their desire to have a voice on this and other topics that affect them,” said Svoboda.
For athletes like Christian and those signing the petition, they believe they have earned the right to be at the table and in the conversation.
“Since we have followed all of those protocols and everything that’s been asked of us we’ve done,” said Hubaker. “We don’t want a blanket shutdown like this to be the response to things like this that can come up. We wanna see team by team analysis and let the healthy athletes and healthy teams go out and compete.”
Michigan athletes are now being tested for COVID-19 six times a week and more test results could give a clearer picture of the spread of the outbreak. Hubaker hopes there will be more discussions with the athletic department moving forward but told us there hasn’t been any initial consideration in changing the two-week pause.