The college football world erupted in chaos over the weekend after the Mid American Conference (MAC) announced it was postponing all its fall sports to the 2021 spring semester. Then, information leaked that the Big Ten Conference is considering canceling or postponing its 2020 fall schedule.
It came just days after the Big Ten Conference released its conference-only schedule for the upcoming season. So, what changed? It is the growing concern of long-term effects of COVID-19 that has university presidents hesitant to move forward with the 2020 college football season.
While the Big Ten is reported, at any moment, ready to pull the plug on the upcoming season, Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby stated to the Des Moines Register Sunday night that, “There’s no immediate movement for the Big 12 Conference to shut down the 2020 fall football season.”
Also adding, “I’ve literally been on dozens of calls with doctors and scientists, and no one has told us to stop. “We’ll keep trying to move ahead, although it would be less than forthright to sit here and not add that the last 30 days has not gone the way we like. That has to be factored into the decision process. We’ve probably not made progress, but we’ve had no one tell us to shut it down.”
The most recent concern is myocarditis, a disease that causes inflammation of the heart muscle. This inflammation enlarges and weakens the heart, creates scar tissue, and forces it to work harder to circulate blood and oxygen throughout the body.
A story started to surface last week out of Bloomington, Indiana, following a freshman offensive lineman Brady Feeney contracted the virus during voluntary workouts in July. His mother, Debbie Rucker, took to Facebook to address the severity of COVID-19.
In the post, she says, “within three weeks, he and multiple other players tested positive. His university had done everything right by shutting down workouts and retesting the whole team. Unfortunately, this virus hit my son very hard compared to most of his teammates. Here was a kid in perfect health, great physical condition, and due to the virus ended up going to the ER because of breathing issues. After 14 days of hell battling the horrible virus, his school did additional testing on all those that were positive. My son even received extra tests because he was one of the worst cases. Now we are dealing with possible heart issues! He is still experiencing additional symptoms, and his blood work is indicating additional problems.”
Rucker later told the Indy Star that “the whole point of my Facebook post is because, in Missouri, where we live, the state is not taking this as seriously as they should. “With everything Brady is going through and has been struggling through, it has been infuriating to me that people are not taking this seriously and not wearing masks.”
And this is what university presidents are taking into consideration. Yes, Brady may be an outlier here, but this was during socially distanced workouts. What if they had been in the middle of fall camp when players unknowingly showed up carrying COVID-19, the virus would have probably ripped through most of the team.
There have been several outbreaks throughout college football during the offseason period, and they have practiced social distancing, and it has limited exposure throughout the team. The positive out of this is, the majority of the programs seem to have it under control, reporting no positive tests.
It’s nearly impossible to keep student-athletes in a bubble, and it’s just another challenge university presidents face.
The Big 12 Board of Directors will meet Tuesday night to discuss football plans.
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