The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted many aspects of life, including sports. Professional sports were able to resume play thanks to strict COVID protocols which ensured the safety of participants. However, as the United States mass-produced COVID-19 vaccines to help stop the spread of the virus, the strict protocols were loosened.
According to NBC Sports, 94.1% of NFL players are vaccinated. Among the 6% who are not vaccinated is the Green Bay Packers’ star quarterback Aaron Rodgers. According to the New York Times, Rodgers has advocated against the COVID-19 vaccine and has been fined various times by the NFL for failing to cooperate with COVID protocols. The New York Times reported that Rodgers has stated that he takes his own form of immunization against the virus, but this immunization does not seem effective, as he has tested positive for COVID-19 and has been sidelined for a couple of weeks.
Due to the seriousness of the pandemic, many institutions across the country, including Guilford College, have implemented a vaccine mandate. The mandate has helped Guilford to keep its COVID cases as close to zero as possible.
Guilford students seem to be taking the protocols seriously.
“I try to play my part (in) flattening the curve because… it can impact my college experience,” said first-year Jesse Guzman.
Guzman participates on the Guilford men’s soccer team and has to follow many protocols, including regular PCR testing, in an effort to return to regular play. Guzman took Aaron Rodgers’s decision not to get vaccinated personally.
“It isn’t fair that big names in the professional world are able to spread misinformation,” Guzman said. “I think professional athletes as role models should be conscious of the reality of the pandemic. It may not impact them but it impacts (those of us) us who do not have access to expensive medical care.”
Guzman is of Mexican heritage and has a family in Mexico, where vaccines are scarce. According to Statista, the percentage of vaccinated inhabitants of Mexico is 57 percent, and the percentage of vaccinated people in the United States is at 58 percent. The difference is that in Mexico the majority of people want and need to be vaccinated, but there are not enough vaccines available. In the United States, there is a large movement against the vaccination efforts, with Aaron Rodgers being one of the big names to speak out against the vaccine.
“Here in the United States there is an abundance of resources, and we are very privileged to be able to go to the pharmacy and receive the vaccine with ease,” said senior Chandler Meertins.
Rodgers has had a history of denying the seriousness of the pandemic. According to CNBC, Rodgers has stated that he has misled people with his comments about COVID, but he still stays true to his beliefs.
“Honestly, it’s frustrating how people are able to spread misinformation,” Meertins said. “This ends up hurting (those of) us who want to return to a normal life one day. The comments made by Aaron Rodgers about the vaccine are a sign of privilege which many people around the world don’t have.”
This privilege has become evident in today’s world, where the words of big influences carry a lot of weight. Students at Guilford feel that their lives are just starting to go back to normal through vaccination efforts, but big names must push for the general population to join in this effort. Guzman and Meertins both shared their opinion that people like Aaron Rodgers should be encouraging the public to get vaccinated.