Sports Take: Do professional athletes need to be vaccinated?

New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton steps on the field at the start of a joint NFL football practice with the New York Giants, Thursday, Aug. 26, 2021, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

By Michael Haag | Sports Writer

The question of whether or not pro athletes should be vaccinated has been at the root of social media and news outlets for the last few weeks, as the NFL and NBA have released their new protocols for their next seasons. The majority of athletes are getting the vaccine, however there are still many that refuse even though coaching staffs and other workers are being forced to.

The NFL will not be making any accommodations for teams that have unvaccinated players. With their updated guidelines the rule is that if a game cannot be rescheduled during the new season due to a COVID-19 outbreak, the team that has the outbreak will be counted with the loss and neither team will receive pay.

Last season, the NFL dealt with rescheduling and postponing games due to outbreaks. However, they were able to get through the entire season fairly unscathed. Give credit to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and executives around the league on being able to do this, as a fair share of the population, including myself, did not think it would go so smoothly.

Similar to the NFL, the NBA is not showing any sympathy for unvaccinated players. In the recent protocol update, unvaccinated players will have to undergo daily testing and be quarantined for extensive time periods, even if it is just from contact tracing. Players with the vaccine will essentially return to pre-pandemic professional life.

All of the news is being released, and the debate still lives on. Should the players be required to get the vaccine? The answer is a clear-cut yes. These players have the right to make choices for themselves, no question. However, for the safety of themselves and others, they need to get the vaccine.

Not only will unvaccinated players be liabilities for their own team, and potentially cost teammates money, they are dealing with a life surrounded by fandom. Fans will want autographs, pictures, court-side tickets, etc. It is inconsiderate to refuse to do what’s best for the safety of yourself and others.

The FDA recently approved the Pfizer vaccine, so there is no longer an excuse. As a professional athlete, that warrants life under the spotlight. The choice rests in the hands of the pro, but it is in the best interests of everyone involved if they do the right thing and get the vaccine.