But then you see a comment like this one Thursday from Missouri AD Jim Sterk on the Paul Finebaum Show: “We’ve had advice that the best way to handle this is to do all those preventative measures” like masks, sterilization and temperature screening. “If there are symptoms, then you test. At this point in time, we’re not going to be testing everyone as they come in.” Sure enough, the SEC’s recommended protocols released on Friday specify testing only for “symptomatic team members.”
Testing ain’t cheap, peeps.
But of course, someone’s got to pay for all those tests, which might simply not be possible. Sterk cited a figure of $65 per test. Multiply that by 150, even twice a week, and that’s about $500,000 between now and the end of the season. And that’s just football. Testing every athlete on every school’s sports teams could cost millions of dollars. Georgia and Florida (which said Friday that every athlete will be tested upon returning) can probably afford that. Georgia State and Louisiana-Lafayette cannot.
Apparently, neither can at least one SEC program… that Georgia plays this season.
Mandel concludes by saying, “They say they’re ready. Cross your fingers and hope they’re right. A whole lot of people have a whole lot riding on them pulling this off.”
We’re supposed to hope that the organization that has never been able to get its collective act together regarding player concussions is ready to pull that off? That an organization that once said this…
The protection of college athletes isn’t the NCAA’s legal responsibility, the organization maintained in a court filing last week obtained by The Washington Times.
“The NCAA denies that it has a legal duty to protect student-athletes,” the document said, “but admits that it was ‘founded to protect young people from the dangerous and exploitative athletic practices of the time.’”
… is all in now protecting college athletes from the coronavirus?
Huma offered the hypothetical of a quarterback at a big-time program waking up on game day with a cough and fever, two symptoms of COVID-19.
“We already know what’s going to happen,” he said. “We’ve seen players suffer concussions on national TV and being kept in the game while staggering around. There’s no accountability. It is unreasonable to think coaches and athletic programs will do right by players.”
The NCAA’s toothless efforts to improve player safety haven’t worked. It adopted “recommendations and best practices” for an independent model of medical care in 2017. The goal was for physicians and athletic training staff to provide care for athletes “free of pressure or influence from nonmedical factors.”
As usual, those guidelines for athlete welfare came with no NCAA oversight or penalties for failure to comply. The results were predictable for anyone familiar with how college sports works.
Only 53% of respondents to a National Athletic Trainers’ Association survey last year said their programs complied with the independent medical care model. About 19% of respondents said a coach allowed an athlete to participate after the athlete had been declared medically ineligible.
Those of you who are so cocksure that the players have nothing to worry about don’t really know any more absolutely than the rest of us. What we do know with a fair amount of certainty is that there are schools feeling enormous financial pressure to play college football. It may be optimistic to expect them to operate against their financial interests. It may be hopeful to think they and the NCAA have changed their approach.
But it’s not a plan.