MORGANTOWN, W.Va.–Who ever believed the question in limbo would be whether the football field is the safest place for student-athletes or not?
The debate across the nation the last few weeks was whether to forge on with the 2020 football season or to postpone it with hopes of proceeding in the spring.
Both the PAC 12 and BIG 10, along with many smaller conferences, have postponed the season.
Some argue that it is too dangerous for the student-athletes to play the sport they love while players and coaches believe the football field is the safest place for these young men.
On Saturday, Oklahoma head football coach Lincoln Riley announced that nine members of the Sooners’ football team tested positive for COVID-19 after players had a week off from practice.
Meanwhile West Virginia’s football team has no active cases after a week of practice.
Since bubbling off the NBA and NHL, players have not tested positive despite playing games.
This would advocate that the coaches and players that believe playing is safer than not playing because the school are taking adequate precautions to keep the student-athletes safe.
If they are not playing football, are they going through the same safety protocols? They want to continue to work out,” Mountaineer head coach Neal Brown said. “Are they safer doing that here than going to their local high school or local gym? Absolutely, because of what we are doing from a cleaning standpoint. We are outdoors. We have professionals and experts in their fields here. I can answer those questions, but I don’t know what all 100 of them are going to do. I can speculate.”
Since returning to the practice facility, Alabama’s cases are also down.
“I want to play, but I want to play for the players’ sake, the value they can create for themselves,” Alabama head coach Nick Saban told ESPN. “I know I’ll be criticized no matter what I say, that I don’t care about player safety. Look, players are a lot safer with us than they are running around at home. We have around a 2 percent positive ratio on our team since the Fourth of the July. It’s a lot higher than that in society. We act like these guys can’t get this unless they play football. They can get it anywhere, whether they’re in a bar or just hanging out.”
Players are frequently tested, especially if one becomes ill.
“We also test anybody that has symptoms and have an open testing site where they can go and get tested as many times as they want or any time they feel like they need to,” Saban said to ESPN. “But our guys aren’t going to catch [the virus] on the football field. They’re going to catch it on campus. The argument then should probably be, ‘We shouldn’t be having school.’ That’s the argument. Why is it, ‘We shouldn’t be playing football?’ Why has that become the argument?”
With cases on the rise and the virus not going away anytime soon, wouldn’t it make sense for the athletes to remain in an environment that is trying to maintain their safety as much as possible?
No one is exempt from this virus and nothing is going to make athletes be 100 percent immune but give them the best opportunity.
“The virus is going to be here whether we play football or not,” Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh told reporters last week “I feel 100 percent certain that the safest place for our football players, in regards to the coronavirus, is right here, where there is structure, testing, medical supervision.”
Cover Photo Credit: Caleb Saunders-WVU Football