WESTWOOD—30 UCLA football players signed the document on Thursday, June 18 demanding the third-party health officials present at all of the athletic activities and events to ensure student-athletes are safe and healthy amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Although the University and Athletic Department provide support at various junctures within our careers, the responsibility to uphold and assert our rights as athletes and human beings fall within our own hands. Time and time again, we see individuals within Athletic programs who ought to defend and protect us, leave us in the dark to fend for ourselves,” said UCLA Bruins football players in the letter. They indicated the need to stand for themselves and to make sure the safety and well-being of student-athletes are top priorities.
“We as a football community assert our right to protect, preserve, and make decisions with regard to our own personal health and safety and now demand that we are able to do so without consequence in terms of reduction, or cancellation of scholarship benefits, or retaliation from coaches and faculty in any shape or form,” said UCLA Bruins football players. They also emphasized the mandatory gatherings which were scheduled to take place by July 6th might be environments that are hard to keep social distance and “should be attended within the discretion of student-athletes.”
After the Los Angeles Times claimed that UCLA football players don’t trust coach Chip Kelly’s program to act in their best interest, Quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson replied on Twitter saying “no one said they didn’t trust coach Kelly,” and mentioned that the majority of players talked about the demands but only some of them were willing to have their names publicly written. “Don’t turn this into a feeding frenzy on Coach, this is about the safety of the program as a whole,” said Thompson-Robinson.
Thompson-Robinson also stated that Coach Kelly agrees with all of the demands on the letter and is working on it. “As the player whose face is on the cover of the article, I apologize to coach as I was unaware the letter would be given to the media for them to mislead,” said Thompson-Robinson.
The 30 UCLA football players required a platform for both athletes and staff to communicate and express the concerns regarding violations of the safety guidelines. “The decision to return to training amidst a global pandemic has put us, the student-athletes, on the frontlines of a battle that we as a nation have not yet been able to win. We feel that as some of the first members of the community to attempt a return to normalcy, we must have assurances that allow us to make informed decisions and be protected regardless of our decision.”