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Op/ed: NFL Should Require Players to Be Vaccinated

Sports Journalism Professor Advocates that All Pro Leagues Should Follow Example of UMD, U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs

By Kevin B. Blackistone

Ron RIvera talks to Tess Way

Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

Vaccine advocate and Washington Football Team head coach Ron Rivera talks to punter Tress Way at training camp in Richmond, Virginia on July 29. A UMD journalism professor says it's time for the NFL to mandate COVID-19 vaccination for players.

If an NFL coach with a compromised immune system can’t convince his own athletes to get vaccinated against COVID-19, then the company that employs them should, a University of Maryland sports journalism faculty member argues in a new Washington Post column.

Kevin Blackistone, professor of the practice in the Philip Merrill College of Journalism, writes today that despite the pleas from Coach Ron Rivera, the Washington Football Team had the lowest vaccination rate in the NFL, and the league needs to step in—as many companies and government agencies did last week amid the dramatic rise in cases from the Delta variant:

Just as it decreed to sideline coronavirus-positive players, the NFL should follow the lead of the Department of Veterans Affairs, which last week started requiring vaccinations for its front-line health-care workers as the first federal agency to issue a vaccination mandate. It could follow the University of Maryland, where I teach and which earlier this year announced students, staff and faculty returning to campus for the fall semester must be vaccinated. It could follow the lead of any number of other employers, large and small, or public events that have decided to ask for proof of vaccination for employment or admittance.

But that is just one prong in what should be the NFL’s approach — and that of its fellow leagues, including the NBA, the WNBA, MLB, MLS and the NWSL. The NCAA, too. After all, if Maryland is restricting who can be on campus by vaccination, why should that not extend to visiting sports teams?

Read the full column in today’s Washington Post.




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