However, three public health experts in the state of Georgia aren’t optimistic for a variety of reasons, including the continued spread of the coronavirus and potential fissures within the testing system designed to ensure that only players free of COVID-19 can take the field.
“The athletes can do everything right; the coaches can do everything right, but when the community spread around them is so high, that bubble just isn’t going to stand up,” said Travis Glenn, a professor of environmental health science at the University of Georgia. “It just isn’t. So that’s the problem.”
“I think I was much more hopeful earlier in the year (for college football), that we would have a little bit more manageable control,” said Christina Proctor, a clinical assistant professor and colleague of Glenn’s in the College of Public Health at UGA. “And now that things have gotten worse, I’m very worried that it’s not going to happen. And I’m an avid fan.”
… Glenn acknowledged that athletic departments and coaches can limit their athletes’ exposure to a great deal, for example by encouraging them to enroll only in online courses and mandating mask usage.
However, “these are 18- to 22-year olds that are going to see other people,” he said. “They just are. And so that’s what’s going to make it really, really hard.”
Once classes begin, the football program can no longer isolate players in a block of rooms at the Georgia Center Hotel. Some alternate lodging plans might be made for players, but we don’t yet know those and it won’t be around-the-clock supervision and prep as it normally is during preseason camp.
… Should the Bulldogs have to wait until after classes begin to start practice, then you’re probably looking at a schedule just as tight as it normally is to make up for some lost time. Still, there’ll have to be pauses for COVID-19 testing because, at that point, players will have presumably been in contact with other students.
This is so, so stupid. But it’s what to expect when following the advice of public health experts takes a back seat to protecting the economic status quo by insisting that the same kids you need to earn your millions from ESPN have to be treated like every other student on campus.
I hope none of them get sick, but if they do, the rationalizations we’ll hear from McGarity and Morehead are going to make me want to throw things through a wall. It would almost (almost because that would suck for those of us who just want to watch them play) serve them right if it wound up costing them the revenues from a football season they so badly crave.