By Thomas Albano
“I don’t want to strike, but I will if I have to.” This is the phrase that has spread over the Rider community with the looming thought of a possible strike.
Student athletes have particular concerns about the possibility of a strike. In addition to their classes, they have to worry about their teams.
Under a strike, coaches and athletic trainers would bow out from their duties and join the striking faculty. This would mean coaches would not be in control of their teams, practices or games. This has raised questions from student athletes that need a clear answer: What exactly happens if a strike occurs and the coaches and trainers aren’t there?
Tim Lengle, head athletic trainer and chair of the AAUP’s Action Committee, provided some answers.
First, the teams might still be able to practice, but a big problem could arise if an athlete were injured.
“Could they practice with an administrator acting as a coach? They could, but they’d be practicing without medical coverage,” Lengle said. “Could they have captains’ practices while they’re here? Yes, but they wouldn’t have anybody to treat their injuries or give them emergency care if they got hurt.”
As for the games, every scheduled home contest would have to be forfeited, according to Lengle. Road games might be able to go on, especially if an administrator acts as a coach, but no athletic events would be able to be played at home because “you can’t have a home event without medical coverage.”
Teams that have volunteer coaches could have them step up in the place of the striking head coaches, but the hope is, Lengle said, that they would not cross the picket line.
According to the administration, when it comes to athletics, “We will continue the planned activities for any athletic competitions and practices for which the university can provide trainers or other appropriate medical coverage. For reasons of student safety, activities may be suspended or deferred. Student athletes should contact the Director of Athletics’ office with questions about their specific sports activities should a strike occur.”
While it hurts to say that forfeiting games is necessary in the event of a strike, sending an athlete out onto the field to risk injury with no trainers around is not a chance that should be taken.
The worst part of all this is there are many athletes who are concerned because if a strike were to happen, they wouldn’t be able to do something that they love — compete as a Bronc. And the Rider students who aren’t athletes love to watch as the teams compete.
Also, let’s look through the eyes of a prospective Bronc. What if a potential student athlete is set on coming to Rider, only to hear that the team he or she would be playing for had to forfeit games the previous season due to a strike? He or she could also learn about previous close calls when it came to a strike in recent years through a simple Google search. Would he or she still be willing to commit to being a Bronc without worry of it happening again?
Face it, in the end, student athletes are valuable contributors to the university who bring camaraderie and excitement. Student athletes are trapped in the middle of a strike situation because their games could potentially be forfeited. Every student deserves to know what’s going on in the negotiations, and the student athletes are no exception. I would not want the ability to do something I love to be taken from me, and if that happens to our athletes, it would be a shame.