As the Kentucky Wildcats gear up for a run at the SEC East title, there’s been rampant speculation in regards to whether or not there will even be a college football season in 2020.
From coaches to athletic directors, there’s been more pessimism than optimism. But now, it looks like there’s another issue that could prevent games from being played.
Games without fans has been the most obvious solution to the problems being faced, but not everyone is on board with that idea. Louisville Cardinals AD Vince Tyra is one of them.
“We won’t be playing games with empty stands,” Tyra said during a virtual meeting on Monday.
The way Tyra sees it is if the sports arenas aren’t safe enough for fans to attend, then it’s probably not safe for 80+ players on each team to be there, either. Add in the fact that they’ll be pushing, pulling, and tackling each other, and Tyra makes a good point.
“I think my assumption is that we won’t begin until we see a significant, and I mean, heading to a major decline [in the coronavirus],” he said. “And if we don’t have a vaccine, I think it makes it more difficult to start up. But there’s a lot of unknown right now.”
If more coaches and ADs agree with Tyra’s sentiment, then the only solution may be waiting for a vaccine, and that could mean no season at all. Most estimates predict that a vaccine will take 12 to 18 months to be developed, and that’s a best case-scenario.
“That probably still is a generous estimate, 12 to 18 months, and I also think that when it does become available, if it does become available, it’s not like everyone can just run out and get it,” said Dr. Kathleen Winter, an epidemiologist at the University of Kentucky. “It’s not like it’s going to be this magical solution.”
Dr. Winter isn’t completely ruling out a return to sports during the 2020-21 campaign, however.
“It’s hard to know,” she said. “But I think that there is a possibility that we’ll have a dramatic decline in disease activity naturally, and if that does occur, then it may be possible to think about more traditional sporting events occurring again.”
It’s a difficult decision, but it’s one that’s going to have to be faced soon.
For my sanity, and for a lot of you, we need sports back in our lives. But the health and safety of fans and student athletes is second-to-none. We won’t see a return to sports until it’s safe, and I think we can all agree that that isn’t the case right now.
All we can do is hope and pray for things to get better. Maybe, the virus will die out. Or maybe, we’ll find a vaccine. Let’s just hope it’s soon.