ATHENS — One of Georgia football coach Kirby Smart’s favorite sayings can be heard each offseason, and this year more than ever it’s true.
“I tell them they have to learn to get comfortable being uncomfortable,” Smart has said several times over, referring to the adversity he has created in practices of past seasons.
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Adversity in sports presents an opportunity for players to learn, test their dedication and motivation and grow.
Might the same thing be said of our society as we battle COVID-19 and its effects on several fronts?
The politics of the situation, along with the unintended consequences, has led to divisiveness on the issue and seemingly hamstrung leadership.
To be clear, there is no right answer at this point of the pandemic, which has seen cases and testing increase with a sharper spread among the younger demographics, even as the death rate has plummeted
It’s a mixed bag of numbers, statistics and an uncertain enough future that SEC commissioner Greg Sankey has wisely postponed his league’s decisions as long as possible.
Indeed, Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh pointed out earlier this week that football does not cause COVID-19, and the virus has become a part of our society and will exist whether the games are played, or not.
The NFL has a plan for its players to report to training camps on July 21.
College football has seen players on respective campuses since the start of June for voluntary workouts, and supervised workouts with football staff members are scheduled to begin for most programs on Monday.
“I know they’ve enjoyed being a part of all this, and being back,” Smart said on a recent ESPN podcast.
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New Georgia quarterback Jamie Newman said as much.
“Just the atmosphere itself, being back with the guys,” said Newman, a graduate transfer from Wake Forest. “Everyone is appreciative of being able to be back in that culture and being able to bond and grow, because that’s what makes it all so special.”
The SEC athletic directors are scheduled to hold an in-person meeting at league headquarters in Birmingham, Ala., on Monday.
There are several options available on the heels of the Big Ten and Pac-12 announcing earlier this week they would play conference-only games.
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The SEC has typically been a leader — not a follower — where college football direction has been concerned, and there remains that possibility as dire as things might seem on social media.
Reporter Mike Griffith shared his views on the COVID-19 crisis on Friday night.
Three key takeaways are that:
1. Players participate on a voluntary basis, and they should have the right to pursue their ambitions amid extremely low risk factors in the 18-to-24 year old age group, and,
2. The lack of uniformity of testing and protocol across the different conferences and programs as a whole exposes and demonstrates the need for leadership in college football.
3. College football players are safer on campus among other tested and closely monitored players than they would be back in their home communities or in regular public settings.
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