There are some rumbles that the Big Ten presidents may be looking to have another vote on the fall season for sports across the conference, and a big part of that has to do with supposed improvements in medical procedures. These procedures and protocols are aimed at reducing the spread of COVID-19, and if they have enough faith in the procedures, we may actually get some semblance of football (and all fall sports) in 2020.
So what sort of protocols do you think will be needed for Big Ten sports to return?
For me, there are a few fairly obvious ones.
Test Result Response Time
I think this one is probably near the top of the list for any return to sports. Sure, you can test players all you want, but if a player goes out to grab some food on a Friday night before a game, then gets tested Saturday morning, you’d like to know pretty much then and there that they’re good to go, or if they caught the Rona.
Are such tests accurate? What’s the actual time from the test to getting results? If a near-instantaneous test is accurate and available, I think it would go a long way toward seeing sports this fall.
Quarantine and Contact Tracing
I think you could argue that athletes are in a better position to stay healthy, given the amount of medical professionals surrounding them. But still, they’re college kids, and college kids are going to go out, and mingle with other college kids. It’s a huge part of being a student at a university, and I don’t think you can - or should - limit an athlete from doing such things.
So what happens when the inevitable occurs, and an athlete comes down with the ‘VID? Quarantine seems fairly easily attainable, and but it goes hand in hand with the quick-turn testing to figure out exactly when they caught it. If you don’t know exactly when and where someone got sick, you end up having to quarantine roommates, position groups, or even whole teams.
That’s not even including other college students that may have gotten it. Knowing exactly when and where someone got sick, to limit further exposure, and avoid as many impacts to the team, seems pretty important.
By now, masks are a part of life. Social distancing is a part of life. Periodic temperature scans, hand-washing, sanitizing, etc. are all parts of life. I have no doubt that the PSU athletic department is on top of all of these things, but all of it would need to be pretty well standardized - and enforced - across the conference for the presidents to agree to allow sports. Will a team like Iowa or Nebraska be as adamant about these things as a team like Michigan or Penn State? Who knows.
Which leads me to my last point, and perhaps the most controversial. What happens if one team - either through negligence or willfully flouting the guidelines - causes an outbreak? Or for a game to be canceled? Most players and coaches want to play, so many would be pretty irked if they had a game - or the season - canceled because another team was trying to get ahead by hiding health information. What sort of penalties would be out there for teams not following the rules? And again, who enforces those penalties?
You would hope that most teams would strictly follow the rules so that everyone could play, but it takes just one kid pooping in the sandbox to shut the whole thing down.
What say you? What other protocols would be needed for sports to return this fall across the Big Ten?