The Big Ten Conference, and the college football world, is still working to put together a viable plan to hold a season this fall amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Illinois running back Ra’Von Bonner, however, has taken the decision into his own hands.
Bonner has decided to opt-out and not play this fall over concerns related to the coronavirus, according to the Chicago Tribune.
His asthma, the risk of spreading the virus to his loved ones and the prospect of having to play a shortened or modified season, he said, were all reasons that played into the decision to forego his senior year.
“[A shortened season] was already on my mind prior to returning to campus,” Bonner said, via the Chicago Tribune. “Playing football, I feel we’re more at risk with the amount of guys we have. In football you have to touch someone else. You can spread that to family members. That’s not what I want. I don’t want to not see my family, my sister, my girlfriend.”
Bonner has rushed for 822 yards and 10 touchdowns over three seasons with the Illini. He said he’s “very, very hopeful” to play again with the program in 2021 as a fifth-year senior, though he knows the school is only obligated to honor his scholarship through this year.
Seeing COVID-19 around the Big Ten
There were more than 4.3 million confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the United States as of Monday night, according to The New York Times, and more than 148,000 deaths attributed to it. Illinois had more than 174,000 confirmed cases, the majority of which were in the Chicago area. Champaign County had less than 2,000 cases.
The Big Ten already announced that it will play a conference-only schedule this fall due to the pandemic, though several programs have already been severely impacted by the virus. Both Rutgers and Michigan State quarantined their entire programs after outbreaks within the teams last week.
It wasn’t the numbers in Illinois that bothered him most, Bonner said, but simply the fear of getting extremely sick.
“I’ve seen some people get sick from it,” Bonner said, via the Chicago Tribune. “I don’t want that to happen to me. It’s the confirmation that people our age can get sick. [Some] try to make it seem like we’re immune.
“It was more so that than the number [of cases at Illinois] itself. We’re doing a lot better than other schools in terms of numbers. But the fact that someone can get really sick — I don’t want that.”
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