ATHENS — No, we are not there yet.
And we’re still not exactly sure what it’s going to look like when we finally get there, to the college football season.
Greg Sankey provided an update from his league commissioner chair on the SEC Network last week via The Paul Finebaum Show.
There’s a harsh reality confronting the nation’s younger population where the spread of COVID-19 is concerned, and it has carried over to the return of football players on college campuses.
There don’t seem to be many “safe” options anywhere in our country, outside of complete self-isolation and that doesn’t seem realistic for healthy 18 to 24 year olds who statistics suggests are not as high risk.
Indeed, even 42-year-old Tom Brady is shunning the advice of the NFL Players Association media director in the name of working out with his new Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ teammates to be dialed in for the season, per an ESPN report.
At Georgia, and across college football, players are allowed 8 hours of supervised non-football workouts per week under the supervision of the strength-and-conditioning staffs.
Footballs are not to be used, the team is broken down into groups of 20, and then subdivided into three smaller groups, and facilities are scrubbed and cleansed between each group’s usage.
But that’s only 8 hours per week.
Outside the football building
The college football issue, in terms of the spread of COVID-19 among the active young group, is what those student athletes do the other 104 hours per week (assuming 8 hours of solitary sleep per night).
Clemson reportedly had 37 players who have tested positive. Texas Tech, 23. Georgia has not released its numbers, though DawgNation and many other media outlets have filed FOIA requests.
The fluidity of the virus, and the ambiguity for the potential for herd immunity, has made it a tough situation for the professorial Sankey to address.
“It will be open-ended for a while, and we’ll have to deal with that,” Sankey said. “The reality is we are in a time of uncertainty. It’s not forever but it’s a reality.
Sankey said his group of commissioners were advised at a recent conference by former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that:
“With uncertainty you will have to make decisions, they will be hard decisions, they are going to be imperfect decisions, and you will have to be comfortable with the outcome — and then you’re going to have to move forward and adapt.”
Dealing with reality
No one with an informed opinion was presuming there would be no positive COVID-19 tests among the student-athletes when they returned to campus.
Sankey so much as said so.
“We knew and planned for the reality around COVID, and that is the potential for positive tests or contact with people who test positive, and the need to isolate,” Sankey said.
“It’s important to understand that we’re providing care on our campuses with embedded medical professionals.”
The care, monitoring and treatment afforded on campus is not something the football players would have available to them if they were still back in their hometowns, where the risk of contacting and spreading COVID-19 also exists.
Sankey indicated he’s aware the spate of cases popping up around programs raises questions.
“Questions we’re not going to have to answer, (like), what happens if that was October, that you had all of these people that had to isolate?” Sankey said. “Well, it’s not October yet, we’re learning as we go.
“As we go through July, even more and more important decisions will come to us.”
For now, it seems, there are only tough questions.
DawgNation offseason headlines