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Column: Justin Fields isn’t opting out of the 2020 season but some players are and that’s alright

Minnesota’s Rashod Bateman and Penn State’s Micah Parsons opted out of the season earlier this week, and their decisions shouldn’t be met with hate from fans.

College Football Playoff Semifinal at the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl - Clemson v Ohio State Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images

I’m sure everyone got a little scared when they saw the picture for today’s article, but don’t worry, Justin Fields has already stated that he isn’t opting out of this college football season, if we even have one. Earlier this week, Fields spoke with Dave Biddle of Bucknuts and stated that he never thought about opting out of this season.

But what about those who do decide to opt out? Much like how never tweeting at recruits has become a solid social meeting strategy, the same energy should be put towards tweeting any sort of ill will towards those college football players who decide it is in their best interests to opt out of the 2020 college football season.

While many would figure this would be a given, I’ve learned over the years that a lot of college football fans (and really just sports fan in general) need to be talked to like they are five years old when it comes to some matters. These student athletes have worked too hard throughout the years to get to the top of their game to have fans turn on them for deciding not to play during a global pandemic.

As a Buffalo Bills fan, I have seen some of this vitriol over the past 24 hours. All-Pro cornerback Tre’Davious White said yesterday that he still wasn’t decided on whether or not he was going to opt out of this year’s NFL season. Since then he has been flooded with some well wishes on whatever his decision ends up being, but there have been just as many people telling him that he needs to play because he gets paid handsomely to suit up for their enjoyment.

How incredibly selfish can we be? It isn’t enough that we are asking athletes, both pro and collegiate, to risk their health every time they step on the field in normal times, but now they have even more responsibility to do so because we need to be entertained? Sorry, but I don’t roll like that.

If Fields or any Buckeye decided to opt out of this season, we should be behind them 100% with their decision. Would any of Ohio State’s student athletes likely be fine if they contracted COVID-19? Probably. But we don’t know that for sure. While most younger people shake off COVID-19, there are still some frightening stories of those who did contract the virus. Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman was praying “don’t take me” as he was suffering with the virus, while Boston Red Sox pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez is dealing with heart issues because of COVID-19.

While stories like this might be more of the exception and not the norm when it comes to athletes, at least professional athletes have had the opportunity to earn money to put them in position to be able to opt out and not struggle with their decision. Student athletes don’t have anywhere close to the safety net that professional athletes have, instead many feel the need to play to put themselves in position to have financial security in the near future.

Honestly though, if Fields had decided to opt out could you have blamed him? While it would have sucked to not see him suit up for Ohio State again, possibly win the Heisman Trophy, and maybe get some revenge on Clemson on the way to a national title, there are bigger things in life than that.

I know it has to seem weird for somebody who writes for an Ohio State site to say there are bigger things than Ohio State sports, but show me where I’m wrong. Don’t get me wrong, I love Ohio State but if I had to give it up to ensure the safety of my family and friends, I’d do it in a heartbeat. Of course nobody is going to miss me writing and rooting for the Buckeyes like they’d miss seeing Justin Fields or any other Ohio State player out on the field, but we shouldn’t scrutinize their decision any more harshly for doing the exact same thing we’d likely choose.

All this to say, no matter what any Buckeyes, or any other student athletes around the country decide when it comes to opting in or out on this season, support them. They are already making one of the toughest decision they’ll ever have to make, don’t make it any tougher on them by hating on them just because you might not like it. These are incredibly tough times for everyone, and we need to be there for each other more than ever.