Georgia athletics’ buy-in runs deep despite COVID-19 challenges
ATHENS — The buy-in with Georgia athletics goes beyond the headlines generated by the SEC’s decision to move forward with fall sports, the league pledging to “support, educate and care for our student-athletes every day.”
The Bulldogs’ players that have spoken up are bought in to one another, but also, their coaches and trainers.
Georgia junior tailback Zamir White made his feelings clear on the issue on Tuesday:
“We’ve worked too hard to not be able to take the field this fall. I trust the plan that our leadership has to keep us safe on the field and off. Our team is focused and ready to play.”
— Zamir White (@zeus1_34) August 11, 2020
Parents of the players are just as committed and confident in the program leaders.
“I have complete confidence the University of Georgia, Ron Courson and Kirby Smart are going to do everything to protect my son,” Terence Mathis, father of UGA redshirt freshman quarterback D’Wan Mathis, has said on more than one occasion.
D’Wan Mathis, of course, underwent emergency brain surgery in May of 2019 and is on the brink of an amazing comeback under the supervision of Courson, the director of sports medicine.
Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity put the current situation into perspective last week, as far as schools’ moving forward with athletics amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We have an obligation to try to play, whether it’s volleyball, soccer, these young people have a three, four, or five-year window to participate, and we have an obligation to try to make that happen,” McGarity said.
“But it’s gotta be done in a safe manner. They have to feel safe. Their parents have to feel safe, and it’s a new world. We all have to learn how to live in a COVID society.”
No doubt, this coronavirus has impacted most every element of society around the globe. Statistics indicate some cultures and age groups have been slower to adapt to the necessary caution and protocols, than others.
Georgia basketball junior Tye Fagan explained his motivation to alter his lifestyle, even though statistics indicate his age group is not as at-risk as others.
“The social life is not as important to me as having a season,” Fagan told DawgNation. “I’d much rather have a basketball season this year. So it’s whatever is necessary; guys wearing masks, or gloves, or washing hands, or whatever I’m told by my trainers to do.”
Fagan explained it’s a matter of priorities.
“I wouldn’t say I’ve given up anything important,” Fagan said. “I have to be considerate of people like my mom and grandma, so I don’t look at it as giving up anything. I look at it as being safe, protecting my family and my teammates and not being selfish.
“I go to a party, that would be about me doing it for myself, not being a good teammate or family member.”
The Georgia football team’s social media account reflected there are still parties — at the position coach’s house with other players who have gone through the rigorous testing and protocol.
— Glenn Schumann (@CoachSchuUGA) August 12, 2020
One of the Georgia football parents on the team, who asked not to be named, said his son have stayed on the UGA campus during the past two breaks for the sake of safety.
“They don’t need to be coming back here when everyone up there that they’re around is tested,” one parent said.
Chris Milton, the father of UGA freshman Kendall Milton, posted similar sentiments to his Twitter timeline.
Had an opportunity to think. I think my son is safer in a STRUCTURED, and SAFE football system with protocols in place, rather than walking and roaming freely through the rest of the student body. Plus, some of these athletes are safer at school than at home.
— Chris Milton (@fatherofballers) August 10, 2020
Georgia football is the front porch to the university, and it appears the light will stay on with the team moving into the next phase of fall drills.
The Bulldogs, along with other SEC teams, are scheduled to start practice on Aug. 17 with the first game scheduled for Sept. 26.
The SEC is expected to put out a scheduled this week, perhaps as early as on Wednesday night.
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