As the green-light has been given to teams to create a safety plan to return to play, some schools have already begun practicing. While I believe most sports can and will be played the biggest concern I have is the ability for football to exist in this mid-pandemic facing the country.
I know this may seem like a hot-take, but in all reality I think this is something everyone attached to football has had cross their mind.
Football is by far one of the most at-risk sports in the fall season and regardless of what we want, I try to look at it objectively as I imagine how it will be even possible to play an entire season without the floodgates opening at some point.
Though our area hasn’t been heavily impacted like more urban areas have, I just struggle to see a situation where this season goes off without a hitch.
The rules and regulations that are in place right now make things already complicated but once things get started, will it be sustained?
The screening process for players and coaches is already set, but when looking at the big picture it doesn’t seem like there is a single contingency plan when the inevitability of a player coming into contact with coronavirus happens.
Football is one of the most high contact sports, as well as one of the most densely populated sports, so what happens when one player gets diagnosed with COVID-19 and it spreads like wild-fire through the locker room?
Do they shut down the team? Do they shut down the school? How long after that happens until a team and gets back to playing?
What if the player played in a game while asymptomatic will that other team get shut down as well?
How will this ever work if we treat every case like the black plague and try to follow the tracks back to every person they have been in contact with?
These are just a few of my questions, to which despite my inquiries don’t seem that answerable at this point in time. But why reopen sports if these questions aren’t answered?
It just seems so rushed, and I know if my simpleton mind is asking these, people much smarter and more connected with the decisions must be thinking about them as well. So many questions, but from my digging it seems that no one has the answers.
It seems like a sport with nearly 100 players, coaches, officials and media at one place at one time is just a recipe for disaster. Now even though I feel this way, I am hopeful that a football season can happen, and if you know me even in the slightest you know I LOVE football, but I also worry about everyone involved and I especially feel for the players who the PIAA is giving hope to right now, even though I feel like the season is a long shot.
So, I remain hopeful for the best, but skeptical of the worst. I hope that in the coming months that these issues are addressed and the PIAA stops their “only preventive thinking” and starts to think about contingency plans when things inevitably go south at some point during the season.
Nick Coyle is a sports reporter/enthusiast for the Wellsboro/Mansfield Gazette and Free Press-Courier. Email him at email@example.com.