Hopes for college football dim as players become infected


Daniel Foster (Flickr)

Many college football players reported for voluntary workouts earlier this month

Ole Olafson, Reporter

College football players have only been back on campus for a couple of weeks, or a few days, in some cases, and issues with coronavirus have already come to the front.

The Southeastern Conference, along with numerous other large football programs, allowed athletes back on campus to begin voluntary workouts as early as June 1, in some cases.  While colleges are reportedly following CDC guidelines to limit the spread of COVID-19, some programs are finding it’s much more difficult to keep their players safe when they are not at practice.

Ross Dellenger reported Saturday for Sports Illustrated that the defending National Champion, LSU Tigers have at least 30 players in quarantine because they have either tested positive or have been identified as having had contact with a person who is infected.

Clemson, their opponent in last year’s National Championship game, recently announced that 21 of their players tested positive for COVID-19.

13 players for Texas tested positive, while practices were paused for two weeks at Kansas State, where 14 players have COVID-19.

According to Dellenger, by using contact tracing, LSU has been able to link most of their cases to community spread.  Officials there have announced that none of the cases have been tracked back to workouts at the facility.  As it turns out, a series of nightclubs near the campus, referred to as “Tigerland”, were the primary source of infections.

A similar situation exists at Arizona State University where numerous bars and restaurants are grouped together on Mill Avenue.

More disheartening news is coming out of Florida, where 20 to 30-year-old people are testing positive at higher rates than anticipated.

As the University of Miami begins their Spring workouts, Florida becomes one of six states to record more than 100,000 cases.

“What we’ve seen now has been a really significant increase in positive test results for people in the 20s and 30s,” NPR reported that Gov. Ron DeSantis said.  “Our cases are shifting in a radical direction younger.”

Officials in Florida are reporting that most young people are asymptomatic or only experiencing mild symptoms.  The same has been reported at LSU, where no athlete or staff member has required hospitalization and all but a few have had only mild symptoms.

Even so, a 17 year-old in Pasco County, Fla. reportedly died from COVID-19 over the weekend.

Team officials at LSU are reportedly advising athletes to not return to their home communities during the weekends for fear that asymptomatic players might infect vulnerable family members.

The news regarding younger victims in Florida accompanies a spike in new cases there as well.  It couldn’t hardly come at a worse time, as both the NBA and Major League Soccer (MLS) have already put plans in motion to restart their seasons at Walt Disney World in Orlando.  Most of the athletes in both those leagues would fall into the 20-30 year-old category which is currently trending toward infection there.