- ESPN staff writer
- Joined ESPN in 2011
- Graduated from Central Michigan
Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields started a petition requesting the Big Ten immediately reinstate the 2020 football season, a petition that had more than 30,000 signatures as of 12:30 p.m. ET Sunday.
Fields tweeted Sunday that “this cause is close to my heart” and urged people to sign the petition. The campaign said it is asking the Big Ten to allow its players and teams to make their own choices as to whether they wish to play or opt out of the fall season.
The petition follows the Big Ten’s decision to postpone the 2020 season based on medical advice and a vote from the conference’s presidents and chancellors.
In the petition, Fields wrote that the players believe “the safety protocols have been established and can be maintained to mitigate concerns of exposure to Covid 19.” He goes on to say that he believes the players should be able to make decisions about what is best for their health and their future.
A Big Ten spokesperson and commissioner Kevin Warren did not immediately return a request for comment.
Some parents of Big Ten players have also spoken out about their desire to let their sons play, as parents from Iowa, Penn State and Ohio State have all released letters addressed to Warren looking for answers about why the season was canceled and what happens moving forward.
Christopher O’Shaughnessy, whose son, Michael, is a punter at Ohio State, said he signed the petition and that the parents are proud of Fields and what he is doing.
“If you’re telling us it’s not safe for our kids to be either in the practices or in the games, tell us why. We want to know,” O’Shaughnessy said. “If we’re supposed to be protecting our kids from something, we want to know what that is. The Big Ten did not share any of that information with us, and that’s where I get mad.”
Parents of Nebraska players are planning to release a letter of their own Sunday afternoon to express similar concerns about postponing the season, urging the Big Ten to reverse its decision.
ESPN’s Heather Dinich contributed to this report.
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