It’s become a rallying cry from the government officials across the country over the past few months – including Oklahoma’s Gov. Kevin Stitt and Stillwater Mayor, Will Joyce: wear a mask so we can play college football.
It’s a sentiment that appears to have fallen on deaf ears for college students throughout the country, including in Stillwater.
This past weekend, after news from Oklahoma State that 23 students in a sorority house had tested positive for COVID-19, videos went viral on social media of OSU students flooding bars on The Strip prior to Monday’s start to the fall semester.
The videos did not get lost on members of the Oklahoma State football team, who have been on campus since mid-June attempting to prepare for a football season that is on fragile ground – especially with scenes like those portrayed around college campuses over the weekend.
Starting safety Tre Sterling threatened to not attend classes Monday out of fear of contracting the virus from the general population after witnessing the videos. Other players also cried out for students on social media for their classmates to abide by procedures.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, during Zoom conferences with media, Cowboy players doubled down in a hope for help from college students in moving toward a college football season.
“We can only control what we can control, which is following safety precautions best we can (like) wearing our masks,” senior wide receiver Dillon Stoner said. “I think that’s the biggest thing for on campus guys who have class. That’s on them (students) to go out to the bars and whatnot, but if you're in class, make sure you're wearing a mask and protecting everyone else around you.”
Starting quarterback Spencer Sanders made a more passionate plea, that had little to do with trying to play college sports this year.
Instead, he asked students to not be selfish in their decision making during the pandemic, not for college athletes, but for their own loved ones.
“You’ve got to think about it, say one of these kids go to The Strip, and he’s got a grandpa, and he gets COVID and goes home to his family and (the grandfather) dies because he gets COVID,” Sanders said. “How is that person going to feel knowing that maybe he transmitted this COVID to somebody, or maybe if that was his grandfather or his mother and his father, just anybody?
“I think once people put it in a certain perspective of it’s going to be your mother you’re passing it to, or somebody else’s mother, I think that’ll give them a great viewpoint on how they would view it. I mean, nobody wants to lose their mother or father.”
Whether it is the students around campus, the players on the team or even citizens around Stillwater who players may come into contact with while getting food or groceries, defensive lineman Cameron Murray said it all came down to one word.
“It all goes back to accountability, and just focus on what our goal is and our goal is to play the season,” Murray said Wednesday. “We are going to get where we want to be by being accountable in your actions. You may not have to go to a party, you may have to just miss those.
“Some stuff you may really want to do, but you just can’t do it any more because some people don’t take it as serious as we do, because all they care about is just living their life – which there’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s just the fact that we have a goal in mind that we want to play football, and we can’t play football if guys are going out partying and doing something that we shouldn’t do.”