A real chance exists that the NFL will manage to accomplish its 2020 season but college football won’t. And there are plenty of reasons for that.
Here’s a significant one: The rules-obsessed NCAA has promulgated no standards regarding the coronavirus.
Will Hobson of the Washington Post shows the level of concern created by the lack of uniform rules. Jackie Hamilton, the mother of Notre Dame cornerback Kyle Hamilton, said she believes that her son’s school is handling the situation properly. But Notre Dame opens the season against Arkansas, which is testing players only if they show symptoms or if they know they were in close proximity to an infected person.
“Do I want my child on the field, tackling some kid who may have it but doesn’t know because he’s asymptomatic?” she told Hobson. “How is that supposed to work? . . .
“It just seems like everyone’s freelancing. The NCAA has rules and guidelines for everything under the sun . . . how are they not making any rules for this?”
So what’s the NCAA going to do? We don’t know, because NCAA president Mark Emmert declined a request from Hobson to be interviewed on the issue.
In the NFL, this won’t be an issue; the rules will be the same for every team. At the college level, where the compensation to players pales in comparison to the money they generate, it’s surprising (actually not surprising) that they’d be put at enhanced risk.
And here’s where the corona truthers shout that young men won’t die from the virus, as if death is the only outcome about which to be concerned. The long-term health effects of COVID-19 aren’t known. Besides, a shoulder-shrug approach to young athletes getting the virus sets the stage for each program to potentially become the nucleus of a super-spread event that would expand to the rest of the campus (if anyone is even there) and beyond, making its way to people it will kill — like the 120,000-plus Americans it already has.
Here’s hoping that players and their families make their voices heard, and that they insist on uniform standards and appropriate safeguards. There’s a good chance, however, it’s too late to develop and implement rules that would apply to all schools that decide to proceed with football in the fall.
If so, the responsible alternatives are to proceed with each program doing its own thing, or to press pause until the pandemic subsides or a national standard can be develop.