On June 1st, Kansas State began bringing back student athletes to start football pre-season training with voluntary workouts. By June 20th, with 13 students testing positive for coronavirus, they shut their workout program down. What happened to the Kansas State athletes wasn’t unique – as schools, hoping to bring back the moneymaker that is college football, are discovering. And it provides an early look at what schools could be facing if they plan to re-open their campuses come the fall.
Football is a full-body contact sport, and it’s also an incredible source of revenue for colleges, accounting for 80% of major-college athletic budgets. But in a world where we’re asked to stay six feet apart, restarting college football programs seems misguided. And the number of schools who have confirmed positive tests of their student athletes is hard to pin down because not every school is reporting their number of cases.
The velocity of the spread of coronavirus among these college football teams is especially foreboding, considering that these students have voluntarily come to campus early at a quiet time of the year. This is hardly the whole football team in attendance – and far from the entirety of the school’s full body of students. Hopefully schools can better quarantine and monitor students when they arrive in the fall, or a lack of college football will be the least of their concerns.
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