Randy Wade shared my biggest worry at the Big Ten parent protest
Randy Wade traveled to the Big Ten offices in Rosemont, Ill. all the way from Jacksonville, Fla., to make a point. And it’s a good one.
While many wondered why Wade — the father of Ohio State player Shaun Wade — organized a protest featuring parents of Big Ten players in front of an empty office building, he did it to raise a concern that he and other parents share. It’s something I’ve also thought about for the last week and a half in the aftermath of the Big Ten postponing the fall season.
Is the Big Ten actually serious about playing in the spring? I’m not so sure. Neither is Randy Wade, apparently.
“The biggest thing is, what steps have to be taken, what can we do to play in the spring?” he told the media gathered at the event. “Because I believe personally, the things he said in his statement are not going to change.”
Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren has inadequately answered the many questions of why he postponed the season. In a divided world, pretty much everyone can agree on that — even if you agreed with Warren’s decision.
These parents aren’t dumb. The reason that they’re looking for answers is they want to see what the standard is for actually playing a season. Warren has been incredibly vague throughout this process, constantly referring to the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 while refusing to go into specifics as to exactly what factors were most important. If Warren doesn’t get specific — he cited worldwide COVID-19 statistics in his open letter — then no one will be able to measure what success looks like.
Wade pointed out that he doesn’t see much changing between now and the start of a winter or spring season. Does Warren think we need a vaccine before then in order to have a season? Does Warren think we need to hit a certain threshold of positive tests? Do we need to have zero positive tests? What evidence does there need to be for the Big Ten’s medical advisory board to determine it’s safe to play? Better yet, what evidence did they use to make this decision? Because there are some in the medical community that have different opinions, which is why the SEC, ACC and Big 12 are moving forward with a season.
If Warren doesn’t share the discussions he has had with the university presidents, there is no barometer. He can turn around in the winter or spring and once again say it’s unsafe without being held to any sort of standard.
— Teddy Greenstein (@TeddyGreenstein) August 21, 2020
Wade’s stated goal is that parent associations from all 14 Big Ten schools get to talk with Warren and their athletic director on Zoom. That’s it. They want communication. Is that too much to ask?
From Warren, yeah, apparently it is. Coaches like Ryan Day and James Franklin have expressed frustration at the lack of direction regarding this fall and how these teams should proceed. When Warren announced that the fall season was postponed, he should have had a detailed plan laying out how the next few months should go. He had nothing.
Financially speaking, the Big Ten needs a football season at some point in the 2020-21 school year, or it will be in a tough spot, with plenty more non-revenue sports cut like what happened at Iowa on Friday. So why wasn’t Warren ready to jump into action and start preparing for the future?
The reason these parents aren’t ready to move on is that Warren wasn’t ready to move on.
For all of the fans and media mocking these parents’ concern and urging them to just move on, consider a situation like this. Your employer is supposed to pay your department this fall, but because of a budget issue, they can only afford to give you half of what you’re owed — even while another department in your company is still getting their full check. Your company tells you it will make up for it this spring by reimbursing you for the full amount, but they show no signs that they will follow through on that intent.
B1G parents stand in front of the B1G home office. pic.twitter.com/1U85KZWwrN
— BuckeyeScoop (@BuckeyeScoop) August 21, 2020
Maybe you understand the budget issue and how it affects you, but you’re not quite sure why it doesn’t affect the other department. Wouldn’t you want more answers? Wouldn’t you want to know what the plan is to make sure your company follows through in the spring? This is your livelihood on the line, after all.
Well, for many of these parents, this is their family’s livelihood on the line. Forgive them if they would at least like a few answers before accepting their fate.
These athletes have a lot to gain by playing, so if that’s being taken away, they want to understand why — and what could lead them to playing again. This tweet from Florida player Kyree Campbell really made me think about the consequences of postponing, and this line in particular stuck with me: “I understand there’s a pandemic going on but I come from nothing, I been living in a pandemic.”
It’s my last year honestly I need this season in order to change my family and my life for the better. I understand there’s a pandemic going on but I come from nothing, I been living in a pandemic. It should be a choice. Always ready to strap them buckles up 💯 COME ON ⏱ 2 PLAY
— Kyree Campbell (@CampbellKyree13) August 10, 2020
That’s why commissioners need to do everything they can to make sure they are supporting these athletes and maximizing their opportunities.
Does it feel like Warren has been doing that? I don’t know that anyone believes that. That’s why the parents were gathered in Rosemont. They want answers to these questions to figure out the best way forward, and they deserve at least that much.