The Florida Marlins had 11 players test positive for COVID-19 on Monday, a development that puts the entire only-recently-restarted MLB season.
The thing is, that outbreak came in a league where players are actively trying to avoid as much contact as possible.
When it comes to college football, players won't be able to do that. In just a few weeks, campuses across the country will be swarming with newly-returned students and there will be no way for athletes completely socially distance themselves from thousands students and faculty.
“College sports is going to be more akin to what the NFL or MLB is doing, with the fundamental difference in that student athletes are going to be treated as students,” Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott told SI. “They are only going to be on campus if other students are on campus, so there’s no bubble in the sense people think about it.”
“You can’t bubble college athletes or cocoon them away like the NFL,” says Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at Johns Hopkins University and an infectious disease physician who sits on the NCAA COVID-19 advisory panel. “The fact of the matter is if the trajectories continue, people are going to be infected on campus and interacting with a team. It’s going to be hard to keep them away.”
While complete quarantine seems impossible, some believe there are some things that can be done to mitigate some of the risk.
“There are simple common sense things that if you want to have football and you know that has to happen, you must deploy,” says Commissiong, the CEO of Todos Medical Ltd., an in-vitro diagnostic company whose main focus is the development of blood tests for the early detection of cancer, but which is also now dabbling in COVID-19 testing. “The tools are available, but they’re not using them because they’re scared about getting sued. No one wants to use them because of the potential blowback.”
For what it's worth, the Texas Longhorns have worked to quell the virus in their own ranks for the time being. The program recently reported non new cases in its most recent round of tests.
Can they keep that up through the season? Only time will tell.