COVID-19’s Impact on College Sports

How colleges are keeping their players and students safe while playing during the pandemic

By Leah Russell

Sports Editor

Associated Press/News Tribune

Covid-19 has affected all aspects of our lives, and with fall sports season upon us, there are many different tactics that sports teams are using to keep their players and staff safe during the pandemic. The NBA went out of the box to create a bubble for all of their players during the games. The NFL is playing in full swing, but many of the stadiums do not have fans, like Maryland’s own Baltimore Ravens. While some college leagues have decided to postpone or cancel their football seasons, many are just not ready to do that yet. 

As of September 26th, all ten of the conferences in the NCAA’s Football Bowl Subdivision have plans to play this fall. The Mid-American Conference and Mountain West Conference being the latest ones added to this list. With so many conferences playing college football currently, it is important to keep players and workers safe. For the Mid-American Conference, keeping players safe involves four mandatory antigen tests a week, and not allowing the general public to attend games.

 The Mountain West Conference however, is allowing individual colleges to determine fan attendance. The Big Ten have decided to have no fans in the stadium for this fall season like the Mid’American Conference. It will be a shock to see Ohio State’s 102,780 capacity stadium or Penn State’s 106,572 capacity stadium empty, but it is a smart move to keep everyone at their schools safer during this pandemic.

Seeing conferences handle pandemic precautions in their own separate ways reflects the novelty of the Coronavirus. In these unprecedented times, there is no ‘normal’ or ‘foolproof’ way to handle the safety of the teams. However, it seems as though the conferences are doing all that they can to continue playing in a safe way. With conferences all having different rules and regulations in their pandemic response, it would be difficult to have inter-conference games as there have been in the years past. 

Ama Stott, a Senior at Hammond, was a little surprised at the decision for interconference games, “It makes me sad that they cannot play a normal schedule, but I understand how this precaution is necessary to help ensure the safety of all players and coaches.”

This extra level of safety is why the conferences are only playing games against other teams in their conference, because it allows for more stability as each team will have the same set of regulations to follow. 

The University of Maryland will be playing an eight-game in conference schedule along with all other teams in the Big Ten. Their schedule was announced September 19th, but the first games will start on October 24th. While this is later than usual for the season to start, it was important to push the start back in order to prepare their supplies and procedures to contend with the pandemic. 

Since the season has not started yet, some Big Ten fans are excited to see what the colleges will do about fan attendance and other normal stadium activities.

“I really like how the NFL has been playing crowd noises to simulate a real game atmosphere. Hopefully the colleges will follow after that,” stated Amanda Russell, a University of Maryland Sophomore, with hopes about what she would like to see the colleges implement during this strange season.

While every team is taking safety precautions, some worry that these precautions will not be enough to stop or slow the spread of the Coronavirus. The Ohio State University student Tori Vander Putten expressed her beliefs, “I understand why these big universities want to start up football again and make up the money they have lost, I don’t think that it is the safest option.”

Football at Ohio State is huge, but many students like Tori recognize the importance to keep their students safe. 

Any prolonged contact with others, like football players practicing with each other, standing in close proximity on the sidelines, or being within six feet on the field, can be an easy way to spread the virus. While colleges starting up their football programs does come with a level of risk, the proper precautions can greatly decrease this risk and still allow for many people to enjoy the season and stay safe.

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