COVID and college sports

By Will Chamblee | Sports Writer

I love sports. For as long as I can remember, sports have been present in my life, whether I was watching or playing them. As I was born in the south, college sports —specifically college football — have always been important in my life.

That being said, college football, and all other collegiate fall sports, should be canceled this fall. Why? Because there is simply no way for the NCAA to guarantee the safety of all its student-athletes.

According to The New York Times, as of Aug. 26, the United States has more than 6. million confirmed cases of COVID-19 with over 40,000 new cases being reported each day Considering that it is difficult to play sports with masks and additionally the travel involved, the risk of infection would be high for student-athletes.

Some fans have used the low death rate in cases involving college-aged adults to suggest that playing collegiate sports would not be dangerous. However, while the risk of death from COVID-19 for college students is low, death is not the only danger associated with COVID-19.

Little is known about the long-term effects of COVID-19, but recent studies have shown the potential for serious long-term heart and lung complications among those who have been infected, regardless of age. If college sports were to continue in the fall as planned, student-athletes would risk being infected by COVID-19 and suffering from these life-altering complications. We must ask ourselves as a society if our entertainment is worth risking the lives of student-athletes across the nation.

That is not to say that sports cannot safely be played right now. Both the NBA and the NHL are having success playing in a “bubble” where they quarantine the entire league in one location. For college athletics, however, playing in a “bubble” is not feasible.

According to ESPN, the NBA bubble cost over 150 million dollars. The NBA, which had the benefit of being mostly finished with its season when the pandemic hit, quarantined 22 of its 30 teams. This would be impossible for the NCAA to replicate. Even if the NCAA decided to only play college football and only brought the teams from the Power Five conferences, the NCAA would still have to quarantine 64 teams and well over 3,000 players.

In the end, it would be too expensive for the NCAA to quarantine even half the teams in one fall sport, much less every fall sport.

With the bubble not possible at the collegiate level, the NCAA is left with no other ways to safely play the season.

When asked about the possibility of playing football this fall, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious diseases, said, “Unless players are essentially in a bubble — insulated from the community and they are tested nearly every day — it would be very hard to see how football is able to be played this fall.”

Many have spoken about how the cancellation of fall sports, and specifically college football, would lead to financial difficulties for the NCAA and universities alike. It’s a valid concern. We’ve already seen the repercussions that COVID-19 has had on universities like Baylor. But at the end of the day, universities and the NCAA cannot look at the cancellation of fall sports as a lost source of income. Similarly, we as students cannot look at the cancellation of fall sports as lost experiences. We have to see it as the only way to fully protect student-athletes.

In an interview with The New York Times, Connecticut football coach Randy Edsall, said, “You have to make decisions that keep their [players] health and safety and welfare at the highest level … These young men’s lives are more important than money.”