As we all know, the coronavirus has caused a multitude of unknowns in our lives. While it seems that state lockdowns would never end, many began to worry that we would not have a football season this coming fall. But with the huge amount of time between now and August, I was sure that we would be having a season, I mean we had to. Then as more and more people began to doubt, I found myself doing the same. Rest assured after an announcement from the SEC on Friday, it looks like we will be having a football season in 2020.
On Friday May 22, 2020 SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey made the following statement: “At this time, we are preparing to being the fall sports season as currently scheduled, and this limited resumption of voluntary athletic activities on June 8 is an important initial step in that process.” (secsports.com) Commissioner Sankey also went on to state that each institution of the SEC will make their own choices on how to properly bring back their student-athletes in the safest manner possible. The statement on secsports.com also goes on to say that, “…NCAA regulations permit only strength and conditioning personnel to supervise voluntary on-campus athletics activities…”
There are going to be a lot of changes for the staff and athletes as they come back to campuses in a couple weeks, including an in-depth transition process. Briefly, that process will obviously include extensive education to medical staff, a 3-stage screening process upon returning to campus, testing of players with symptoms, and isolation if necessary. (secsports.com) I believe the quote from our very own, AD Phillip Fulmer on ESPN.com says it best:
“But the very thing medical people are telling us right now not to do is gather in larger groups. So you may not gather them in the weight room or gather them in the dining room, but they’re going to gather somewhere if they’re all back. They’re teammates, so there will be a lot of educating that goes into this. There’s no magic thing here that makes anybody right. We still have time. I just don’t want to do anything that’s going to set us back.”
This will be quite the learning process; it is going to be necessary to proceed with the utmost caution as none of us want to lose any of the slack we have gained.
Obviously, there is still a lot of unknown about what we will see this football season. While there is no doubt in my mind that competition will be played on time, I also strongly believe they will be conducted either with no fans or more likely a limited number of fans in attendance. This is going to be new for all of us as there will be new norms for us moving forward, at least for the foreseeable future.
At the end of the day the decisions that are being made are being made with the health and safety of fans, staff, and more importantly, student-athletes in mind. I don’t know about everyone else, but I would much rather have a football season with limited to no fans and have to watch on TV, than to not have a football season at all. Again, there is a lot of time between now and August, it’s going to be interesting to see what else unfolds.