As the sports world figures out how teams will begin training while trying to curb the spread of COVID-19, some are wondering how teams will adjust to the proposed guidelines, if at all.
Now, it appears that some members of the UCLA football team have concerns—particularly in regards to their head coach, Chip Kelly and his staff. The Los Angeles Times reports that 30 players from the Bruins have shared a letter requesting that a “third-party health official” supervise compliance with coronavirus protocols when voluntary workouts begin on Monday.
The document indicated that team management has “neglected and mismanaged injury cases” before and asked that protections be put in place for whistleblowers who report violations. It adds that there be no retribution for players who decide not to return.
“These demands reflect our call for an environment in which we do not feel pressured to return to competition, and if we choose not to return, that our decision will be respected,” the document reads. “If our demands are not met, we will refrain from booster events, recruiting events and all football-related promotional activities. 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.”
UCLA’s senior associate athletic director Matt Elliot said that the school ensured that fall sport athletes will have aid during the upcoming season. However, there aren’t any guarantees that the scholarships will continue beyond then.
Earlier this month, after Kelly shared a message about the nationwide protests, one former Bruins players criticized him for the way he treats Black players on the team as well.
Former receiver Stephen Johnson III, who played for the team in 2018, retweeted Kelly’s message and wrote, “What does this mean?” In another tweet, Johnson wrote, “Let’s let the truth be known he threw away classes of black atheletes [sic] careers and did not care.”
In his message, Kelly didn’t mention George Floyd at all, instead referring to the fallout and violence that’s taken place during demonstrations.
“It’s hard to see our community—and humanity—so deeply hurting,” Kelly wrote. “The pain is felt by everyone in our Bruin family. In a time of such tragic destruction, we have been trying to understand how to best offer support to our players.” He also quoted Martin Luther King Jr.