Dr. Anthony Fauci says the viability of college and NFL football this fall is “impossible to call” at the moment, and told SportsIllustrated.com’s ‘Jets Country’ that the status of the Covid-19 pandemic at the time of decision will be the determining factor.
Fauci is the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and has been the face of the government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. His recent comments to CNN, which he says were taken out of context, triggered a wave of fear that the NFL season and college football might be shelved this fall.
“The situation this fall will be dictated by the dynamics of the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States,” Dr. Fauci said in an exclusive interview with ‘Jets Country.’
“Optimally you would want to see the level of infection dramatically decreased and good control of any evidence of resurgence. Again, the officials of the league in consultation with the players will make their own decisions.”
During an appearance on CNN last week, Fauci said of the NFL season that “it would be very hard to see how football is able to be played this fall” if players weren’t quarantined or put in a bubble.”
Fauci told ‘Jets Country’ that he wasn’t attempting to convey anything specific about the fate of the upcoming NFL season.
“My statements about the NFL season have been misinterpreted and taken out of context,” Fauci said. “I was asked by officials from the NFL about risks associated with various scenarios that the NFL might face in consideration of the upcoming season. I provided advice from a public health standpoint. The ultimate decision is not mine but that of the officials of the NFL and the players themselves.”
The battle with how to re-open sports has been a heated debate with no clear-cut answers. The NBA and MLS, for instance, are pursuing the aforementioned bubble where the regular season will resume in Orlando and players will be kept in isolation. Baseball will have a shortened season but it is unclear how that will play out or if fans will be allowed into stadiums.
Both the NFL and college sports are able to punt on a decision for a few more weeks until their respective seasons come more clearly into focus.
Dr. Fauci reiterated that he is not the ultimate arbitrator on whether leagues can or should open up. Saying “I merely provide advice based on data and science. I certainly do not make the call on whether a league can or cannot return” he points to the data as being the ultimate source for these decisions.
As of June 22, there are 2,275,645 reported cases of the coronavirus with 119,923 reported deaths. Several states are seeing a spike in cases in recent days.
There aren’t necessarily benchmarks that need to be hit, however, for Dr. Fauci to feel comfortable in saying that a dip in the numbers or a flattening of the curve could result in fall football.