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Pac-12 Footballers Threaten to Opt-Out of Season

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Thirteen football players from the Pac-12 Conference said they would consider opting-out of their 2020 season due to the way the universities were handling the coronavirus, which they said prioritized money over safety.

What We Know:

  • The athletes, who are from 10 schools and include All-American and honor roll candidates, threatened on Sunday to opt-out and boycott the upcoming season, saying that they would not play unless the universities address the problems of systemic inequality that were highlighted by their response to the coronavirus pandemic.
  • The players said the schools have had inadequate transparency regarding the health risks of playing a contact sport such as football, during an outbreak. They also shared that there is a lack of uniform safety measures and an absence of ample enforcement of health and safety guidelines.
  • The players issued their concerns with the league through The Players’ Tribune in which they shared the hashtag #WeAreUnited in an attempt to also engage the support from other athletes in various conferences. The group shared that one of their main missions is to address racial injustice with the conference and the schools involved. The letter states a reason for speaking up is “Because NCAA sports exploit college athletes physically, economically and academically, and also disproportionately harm Black college athletes, #WeAreUnited.”
  • The athletes feel as though these shortcomings represent a larger systemic issue within college sports in which players have little standing to address social, economic, or racial inequalities. They want some of the millions of dollars of revenue they generate for the schools to be used towards addressing those inequalities. “The people who are deciding whether we are going to play football are going to prioritize money over health and safety 10 times out of 10,” said Jaydon Grant, a senior defensive back at Oregon State.
  • The announcement comes as colleges across the country are struggling with how to proceed during the coronavirus pandemic. While the Ivy League conference has already canceled sports until January 2021, universities in the four major conferences, the Southeastern, Big Ten, Pac-12, and Atlantic Coast, who rely on the lucrative revenue from their football teams, have opted for a conference-only season.
  • Decisions to have a college football season has received some pushback as people question whether the universities can, and should, require unpaid college athletes to play, despite the risks of the coronavirus pandemic, in order to keep an influx of money coming to the athletic departments. The NCAA has not instituted any league-wide health and safety standards such as the standards on the frequency of testing or other protocols, which is currently left up to each individual school.
  • The Pac-12 players represent the first collective effort to question why players are assuming so much risk. They have said the conditions for their return include not only increased health and safety protocols but also measures that would redistribute some of the millions of dollars that college football generates. In the redistribution, players ask Commissioner Larry Scott, whose salary is $5.3 million a year, as well as other coaches and administrators to drastically reduce their pay and end costly facility spending.
  • Additionally, the document has four main categories of demands to “protect and benefit both scholarship and walk-on athletes,” including health and safety protections, eliminating excessive expenditures to protect all sports, ending racial injustice in college sports and society, as well as economic freedom and equity. Some of the demands include “increased medical insurance coverage, six-year scholarships, the freedom to hire marketing agents, and that 50 percent of each sport’s conference revenue be distributed evenly among athletes in their sport.”
  • The Pac-12, in a statement on Saturday, said that it had yet to hear from the group. “Neither the Conference nor our university athletics departments have been contacted by this group regarding these topics. We support our student-athletes using their voice and have regular communications with our student-athletes at many different levels on a range of topics.” The conference also shared that they have allowed any student-athlete to opt-out for health or safety reasons and their scholarships will still be covered.
  • The boycott has received support from other athletes across the country, in particular, one of college football’s biggest stars, Clemson University’s quarterback Trevor Lawrence. On Twitter, Lawrence endorsed the Pac-12’s push for fair treatment by sharing and agreeing with Washington cornerback Elijah Molden’s tweet.

  • A staff member at a Pac-12 football program shared with ESPN that the movement is “real” and potentially involves hundreds of players. As of now, the boycott includes players mainly from Cal, Oregon, Stanford, and UCLA, but has players from 10 of the Pac-12 schools with varying involvement from campus to campus.

Commissioner Scott has yet to directly comment on the demands. The Pac-12 conference has approved a 10-game, conference-only fall schedule for football that is scheduled to begin on September 26 with the official training camp anticipated to start on August 17.

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Alex Haynes is Editor-At-Large/NYC Editor at Urban Newsroom, Executive Editor at UNR's Black Alerts and the host of Boss Mornings and Unmuted Nation. Alex joined Urban Newsroom in 2010 and contributes regular op-ed and editorial pieces while advising the columnist and contributing staff.

Coronavirus

U.S. May Approve COVID-19 Booster Shots at 6 Months

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The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is currently reviewing booster data from vaccine manufacturers and other countries given at 6 months.

What We Know:

  • An unnamed source told the Wall Street Journal the boosters would be approved for all three COVID-19 vaccines administered in the US- Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson. In addition, they declared approval would come in mid-September.
  • The information comes after officials reported that booster shots would become available to some adults 8 months after their last dose beginning on September 20. These include healthcare providers, nursing home residents, and other seniors. However, booster rollout depends on FDA approval and recommendation from a key Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) outside vaccine advisory committee.
  • Officials want people to receive the third dosage because of the current rise in Delta strain cases. Studies show that the coronavirus vaccine loses potency after several months. Additionally, the Delta strain currently holds the highest number of infections among vaccinated and unvaccinated people; despite this, those who obtained the vaccine experience milder breakthrough infections.
  • In addition, the CDC and FDA urge citizens to receive vaccinations as hospitalizations rise once more. Recently, the U.S. saw 100,000 people hospitalized, a number only seen since before vaccines were easily accessible. A third of the country’s hospitalizations come from states with low vaccination rates, large populations, and governors who disagree with vaccine and mask mandates, such as Texas and Florida. As of Aug. 25, Texas saw 23,412 new daily cases, 248 deaths, and 14,000 hospitalizations. On that same date, Florida saw 26,203 positive cases, 9 fatalities, and 17,000 hospitalizations.

Alongside more hospitalizations, daily numbers are also creeping back up. On Aug. 25, the U.S. saw 148,000 new cases, only 3,000 less than Jan. 30’s report. In contrast, deaths from COVID-19 waned since January, dropping from 3,100 a day to 1,100 a day.

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FDA grants full approval to Pfizer’s Covid vaccine

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The Food and Drug Administration granted full approval to Pfizer-BioNTech’s two-dose vaccine Monday for people ages 16 and up, making it the first Covid-19 vaccine to pass this final regulatory hurdle.

“The FDA’s approval of this vaccine is a milestone as we continue to battle the Covid-19 pandemic,” Acting FDA Commissioner Dr. Janet Woodcock said in a statement. “While millions of people have already safely received Covid-19 vaccines, we recognize that for some, the FDA approval of a vaccine may now instill additional confidence to get vaccinated. Today’s milestone puts us one step closer to altering the course of this pandemic in the U.S.”

What We Know:

  • The FDA’s decision may also pave the way for more vaccination mandates: Many businesses were waiting for full approval before they required employees to be vaccinated.

“Full approval could not come at a more important time, as the highly contagious delta variant continues to drive up caseloads and deaths across the U.S.,” the president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Dr. Richard Besser, former acting director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said in a statement. “I am hopeful that full approval will address any remaining concerns and will move many people to a ‘yes’ on vaccination.”

  • Besser said the lack of vaccines in middle- and low-income countries “represents a global failure,” adding, “Ensuring an adequate supply of vaccines in every country and community must be a health, economic, and moral imperative for the world.”
  • Federal health officials announced that, starting September 20th, people who received the Pfizer vaccine will be eligible for third doses eight months after their second doses. The FDA has not yet signed off a third dose.  No Covid vaccines have been authorized or approved for use in children under 12, though this is expected to change soon with FDA approval.

Pfizer’s vaccine is one of three in use in the U.S. Moderna has also applied for full approval, also known as a Biologics Licensing Application. Johnson & Johnson has not yet applied for full approval, and remains in use under emergency authorization.

Pfizer’s product was the first Covid vaccine to gain emergency use authorization, in December. As of Monday, more than 203 million doses have been given in the U.S., according to the CDC.

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Coronavirus

Reverend Jesse Jackson and His Wife, Jacqueline, Hospitalized with COVID-19

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Reverend Jesse Jackson and his wife Jacqueline are currently being treated at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago.

What We Know:

  • News about the couple’s diagnosis became public after a statement released by the Reverend’s Rainbow/Push Coalition on Saturday. In the statement, officials declared that doctors were monitoring both Jesse and Jacqueline; it did not provide any further information.
  • However, their son, Jonathan, provided more information on Sunday. Jonathan told the Associated Press that doctors are carefully observing Jesse and Jacqueline because of their ages. Additionally, the two responded “positively” to treatments and were resting. On Monday, Jonathan said his parents’ status did not change and asked for prayers for the two,
  • Despite his hospitalization, Jesse received his first coronavirus vaccine dosage in January 2021 during a publicized event. Alongside obtaining protection against the disease, he urged his followers to receive the vaccine as soon as possible. The Associated Press reported that it is unclear if Jacqueline also got the vaccine.
  • Underlying health concerns might have been the cause for both of them catching COVID-19. Family members said Jacqueline had an unspecified condition which made them concerned recently. In addition, Jesse was diagnosed in 2015 with Parkinson’s disease and underwent gallbladder surgery earlier this year.
  • Rev. Jesse Jackson worked with mentor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in moving the Civil Rights Movement forward. His impact helped guide the movement on numerous issues, such as voting rights. After the movement and even currently, Jesse continued working to make a change in his society. Police recently arrested Jesse for civil disobedience after participating in a sit-in at Sen. Kyrsten Sinema‘s Phoenix office with 39 others.

Black News Alerts prays that Jesse and Jacqueline make a speedy recovery and continue inspiring many.

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