The schools of the Southeastern Conference on Monday started fall football camps. The athletes began football practices with pads and coaches present. The SEC pushed the start of camp back from Aug. 1 after they shortened the season to ten games from twelve and pushed the start of the season back to Sept. 26 from Sept. 12.
“It is great to be on the field,” University of Alabama head football coach Nick Saban said. “We continue to try to give our players an opportunity to play if they want to play, to be able to compete, to create value for themselves.”
Controlling the spread of the coronavirus on the team is obviously of paramount concern.
“The bubble we have here we have been very successful. We have had less than a two percent positive since I think, the last month or so,” Saban said. Saban cited medical privacy issues limiting the information that the team can share with the press.
Saban said that he feels that there should be a playoff this year, even though just three of the Big Five conferences are playing this fall,
“In my opinion, there is going to be three conferences playing. I think the players look forward to the playoffs,” Saban said. The players that play should have the opportunity to participate in the playoffs and compete to win a championship.
On Monday, the SEC announced that Alabama will open their season with Missouri on Sept. 26 in Columbia, Missouri. Auburn University will open at home against Kentucky.
The Iron Bowl will be held in Tuscaloosa on Nov. 28. Some fans are upset that the game, which is played between Alabama and Auburn, will not be the last game of the season for either team. The SEC is pushing forward with the college football season even after four of the nine other NCAA Division 1 Football Bowl Subdivision have postponed football and the other fall sports until spring.
The Big 10, PAC 12, MAC and Mountain West Conferences have stated that it is unsafe to play football. The decision by the Big 10 to postpone the college football season has been sharply criticized within that community.
“Our University is committed to playing no matter what, no matter what that looks like and how that looks,” said Nebraska head football coach Scott Frost. “We want to play no matter who it is or where it is.”
Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields has started a petition drive to put pressure on the Big 10 college presidents to reverse the decision.
“I could not be more proud of Justin Fields, and I support his efforts,” said Ohio State head football coach Ryan Day. “He loves Ohio State. He loves his teammates. We ask our players to be leaders, and he’s leading. I’m honored to coach him and this team. #FIGHT”
The threat of a healthy, athletic college-age person actually dying from COVID-19, while it can happen, is minimal. However, COVID-19 can leave long-lasting side effects including a loss of lung function and heart issues. Five incidents of myocarditis in Big 10 college athletes after COVID-19 infections is being cited as one reason leading the college presidents to make the decision, which will cost the schools hundreds of millions of dollars in lost revenue.
Myocarditis is an inflammation of the heart muscle. Myocarditis can affect the heart muscle and its heart’s electrical system, reducing the heart’s ability to pump. The condition can cause rapid or abnormal heart rhythms and chest pain. In some cases, it can eventually lead to heart failure, disability and death. Myocarditis is sometimes caused by a viral infection like the flu.
One researcher at Emory says that according to his preliminary numbers, up to 20 percent of COVID-19 patients who require hospitalization for their infection are left with myocarditis or other heart issues. If proven accurate, this would be a much higher incidence rate than with the flu or other viruses.
Saban said that the university is consulting with its medical advisors and is implementing the recommendations of the CDC.
Saban was asked by a reporter if he feared playing this season under the circumstances.
“I don’t fear this because we are trying to do the right thing,” Saban said. “We have great medical care here. We have great medical protocols here to try to keep people safe.”