JessN: Commentary: How a season affected by Covid-19 might shake out

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Commentary: How a season affected by Covid-19 might shake out
By Jess Nicholas, TideFans.com Editor-In-Chief
April 16, 2020

Typically at this time of the year, you’d be reading a story either previewing or recapping Alabama’s A-Day game, and getting you ready for TideFans.com’s annual summer team previews prior to college football heading into fall camps.

Things are different in 2020, though. Much different. They are different in Tuscaloosa, in Auburn, in Fayetteville, in Lexington – and very different in places like New York City and Seattle.

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Saban4Ever

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Thanks for the write-up, Jess. It will be interesting to see what happens. I read that all the commissioners (in their call with Pence) told Pence they did not want their conferences/teams playing football/other sports unless there were fans in the stadiums. I just hope a vaccine is made sooner than expected, for everyone's sake. This Covid 19 is no joke.

Also, what is your opinion on recruiting so far for next year's class? It seems Bama does not have as many commitments so far as other teams like UGA, Ohio State, and a few others have. Thanks! RTR
 
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4Q Basket Case

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For a whole bunch of reasons, I hope you're right, Jess.

Personally, I would predict (note: predict, not prefer) the mid-October solution. As you point out, it is splitting the baby, exposes late-season games in northern states to snow-outs, and probably won't make anybody fully happy.

But it does give some politicians in big states room to backtrack, and look not only righteous, but reasonable -- and what politician, red or blue, doesn't like love that?

Also keeps the NCAA from having to face the reality you allude to regarding the FBS.....namely that it should be limited to truly major football schools. Power 5 conferences (and even some of those are debatable), plus a few others.

So while I agree that a full schedule played in the fall would be better, and I hope that happens, I just see too much comfort for politicians, University Presidents and Conference Commissioners (who are themselves largely political animals) in the middling solution.
 
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Bamabuzzard

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Good write up Jess. I have no idea when or if college football will be played or not. But I do believe this, it will not be played if fans cannot be in the stands as normal. The NFL may can get away with it but I don't believe college football can. There's a lot of moving parts to it because each state isn't dealing with it the same way. Which will be the ultimate hurdle in jump starting the season.
 

B1GTide

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Good write up Jess. I have no idea when or if college football will be played or not. But I do believe this, it will not be played if fans cannot be in the stands as normal. The NFL may can get away with it but I don't believe college football can. There's a lot of moving parts to it because each state isn't dealing with it the same way. Which will be the ultimate hurdle in jump starting the season.
Most colleges require the ticket revenue just to cover the cost of fielding the teams and paying for coaches, equipment, etc. But those are sunk costs, so many colleges are looking for ways to cover those costs.
 

JDMinHSV

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It's an interesting dichotomy that while you say that we have to respond to the virus, not it to us, yet on the other hand appear to be all for opening everything back up just for the sake of college football. I understand that you are speculating, but still . . . Without a comprehensive testing system in place, it would be folly to allow, what, 200+ people to come together in close contact even without fans in the stand. And with a dearth of leadership in most of the states of the SEC and at the Federal level, testing just ain't gonna happen.

As much as I love Bama and college football - I tell my friends not to bother me on Saturday because I will be indulging in my one vice - it's best for all of us to continue social distancing and not have a college sports season this year. If the anti-viral you mentioned works, and if it is distributed equally throughout the country as opposed to just the "friendly" states, and if all that is completed by August, and if its implementation puts a halt to the spread of the virus, then I say "Halleujah! Let the season begin." But frankly, those are a lot of ifs to overcome.

Other than that, I appreciate the thought you put into the article. As always, it was an excellent read.
 

Swanny

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"Truth and the scientific process have been shuttled to the back of the bus while leaders fight among themselves over who is going to come out looking better."

I havent seen a more accurate statement since this whole mess started. At every level. Thanks for the info Jess. Refreshing to read something that was written objectively.
 

davefrat

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i read an interview last week with Peter Hotez who is the head of the national school of tropical disease at Baylor medical school. he's considered one of the top experts on infectious diseases and his take on the timeline for a vaccine is pretty dire. he said the 18 month timeline is overly optimistic and that it is more likely to take years to develop a vaccine, and that doesn't account for mutations. we are looking to be in a long-haul fight with this virus and it's going to be a long time before things return to any sense of normal.
 
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JessN

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It's an interesting dichotomy that while you say that we have to respond to the virus, not it to us, yet on the other hand appear to be all for opening everything back up just for the sake of college football. I understand that you are speculating, but still . . . Without a comprehensive testing system in place, it would be folly to allow, what, 200+ people to come together in close contact even without fans in the stand. And with a dearth of leadership in most of the states of the SEC and at the Federal level, testing just ain't gonna happen.

As much as I love Bama and college football - I tell my friends not to bother me on Saturday because I will be indulging in my one vice - it's best for all of us to continue social distancing and not have a college sports season this year. If the anti-viral you mentioned works, and if it is distributed equally throughout the country as opposed to just the "friendly" states, and if all that is completed by August, and if its implementation puts a halt to the spread of the virus, then I say "Halleujah! Let the season begin." But frankly, those are a lot of ifs to overcome.

Other than that, I appreciate the thought you put into the article. As always, it was an excellent read.
My personal position -- which I have not shared on this board, as until now it had little to do with football in general -- is that we will not ever beat Covid-19, or most any other coronavirus-type disease, for that matter.

Diseases like Covid-19, which can be seasonal and/or mutate often, are very hard to cure. The common cold is a coronavirus and we're no closer to curing it now than we've ever been.

Influenza has a vaccine -- and that vaccine, in its best years, is only 50-60 percent effective. It must be updated every year, and a lot of years, the efficacy rate is far worse, in the 25-35 percent range. Then, you have to convince everyone to get it, and that was never easy but the anti-vaxxer movement has made things even worse.

Our best hope for dealing with Covid-19, medically, is post-infection treatment. I hope Remdesivir proves to be that treatment, or maybe even in conjunction with quinine-based treatment, which has shown some degree of effectiveness even if it isn't a panacea.

What's my point?

If we're even 1-2 years out from a fix -- or especially if it's longer -- your choices will come down to two: You can either continue about your life, possibly get Covid-19 and statistically be overwhelmingly likely to survive the experience, or you can hide in your house. The economy will not survive if we all do the latter, or even if the current phased shutdown is allowed to continue without end. Eventually we will run out of money, and we will face shortages of food and other durable goods. And finally, there will be an inflection point at which deaths due to starvation, stress-related heart attacks, suicides and other diseases become more prevalent than deaths due to a coronavirus.

If you choose to continue living, you might die. I might die. But the alternative isn't much better, and the period of suffering prior to death will be elongated.

Social distancing was never meant to kill off Covid-19. It was meant to smooth out the caseload of Covid-19 sufferers so that hospitals could care for the influx of patients without losing too many of its own staff to the disease.

Let me be clear: You're probably going to get Covid-19, whether you get it today or in November or a year from now. So will literally everyone you know. Unless you know of someone who has never gotten a cold, I don't see how anyone can avoid this fate. That's why the treatment is 100x more important than a vaccine that will largely be no good 2-3 years later.

As it relates directly to football, publicly-owned universities don't go bankrupt, but if they could, I would expect 30 or so FBS schools to declare bankruptcy if the season is wiped out. Schools are already dropping other (minor) sports programs now, even before the initial shutdown is over. This is going to accelerate as the calendar moves on. Eventually, athletic directors and presidents will have a choice to make: Open up, or drop sports, lay off coaches and begin returning donations.

The complicating factor here is these are students playing -- although, in lieu of the recent decision to start paying kids to play, they can no longer claim to be true amateurs anymore, nor can they claim to be captive employees. Congrats, kids, you got your money, but a salary comes with certain responsibilities to your employer. If you didn't want to be held to those responsibilities, you shouldn't have pushed for the money in the first place.

They're not technically "kids", as they are all 18 years and older, no more a "kid" than a bunch of like-aged young adults fighting wars across the globe under our flag. But high school players are certainly kids, and they make up the future pool of players at the college level. The real question is, if 1-2 years of football got wiped out at the high school level, how would that affect future college football seasons?

These decisions are not easy, but anyone suggesting we shut down the economy for a year or more doesn't understand economics in a free-market society. Once everyone finally gets around to that realization, college football will go on. They can either realize it now, or a few months from now. But they will realize it.
 

DrollTide

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Excellent. I'd completely forgotten that the plans of universities or even the entire NCAA could be swept aside by individual state shelter-in-place orders. An interesting state of affairs, indeed.
 

NationalTitles17

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There's a lot of work to do on the public health/medical side of things to be ready to go on sports. I hope everyone is working together to the best of their abilities (or beyond) to get it done.

Of note, remdesivir has a few anecdotal reports and a leaked report but not much in the way of hard data yet. The studies being done are Phase III but without controls, so even then you'll need a big grain of salt while you study the methodologies and potentials for bias. While randomized double-blind controlled studies with placebo are the gold standard, strong results from the studies in progress would be very encouraging.

One good thing is that SARS - the original one - has not come back (except for a few lab-related incidents). The same strategies that worked for it should work for COVID--19/SARS-CoV-2. Cooperation among the United States and internationally will be key as will massive efforts in production of the needed materials and in testing, contact tracing, and isolation/quarantine.

It is not beyond our capability to get this under control if we have the will to get it done.
 
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Ole Man Dan

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My personal position -- which I have not shared on this board, as until now it had little to do with football in general -- is that we will not ever beat Covid-19, or most any other coronavirus-type disease, for that matter.

Diseases like Covid-19, which can be seasonal and/or mutate often, are very hard to cure. The common cold is a coronavirus and we're no closer to curing it now than we've ever been.

Influenza has a vaccine -- and that vaccine, in its best years, is only 50-60 percent effective. It must be updated every year, and a lot of years, the efficacy rate is far worse, in the 25-35 percent range. Then, you have to convince everyone to get it, and that was never easy but the anti-vaxxer movement has made things even worse.

Our best hope for dealing with Covid-19, medically, is post-infection treatment. I hope Remdesivir proves to be that treatment, or maybe even in conjunction with quinine-based treatment, which has shown some degree of effectiveness even if it isn't a panacea.

What's my point?

If we're even 1-2 years out from a fix -- or especially if it's longer -- your choices will come down to two: You can either continue about your life, possibly get Covid-19 and statistically be overwhelmingly likely to survive the experience, or you can hide in your house. The economy will not survive if we all do the latter, or even if the current phased shutdown is allowed to continue without end. Eventually we will run out of money, and we will face shortages of food and other durable goods. And finally, there will be an inflection point at which deaths due to starvation, stress-related heart attacks, suicides and other diseases become more prevalent than deaths due to a coronavirus.

If you choose to continue living, you might die. I might die. But the alternative isn't much better, and the period of suffering prior to death will be elongated.

Social distancing was never meant to kill off Covid-19. It was meant to smooth out the caseload of Covid-19 sufferers so that hospitals could care for the influx of patients without losing too many of its own staff to the disease.

Let me be clear: You're probably going to get Covid-19, whether you get it today or in November or a year from now. So will literally everyone you know. Unless you know of someone who has never gotten a cold, I don't see how anyone can avoid this fate. That's why the treatment is 100x more important than a vaccine that will largely be no good 2-3 years later.

As it relates directly to football, publicly-owned universities don't go bankrupt, but if they could, I would expect 30 or so FBS schools to declare bankruptcy if the season is wiped out. Schools are already dropping other (minor) sports programs now, even before the initial shutdown is over. This is going to accelerate as the calendar moves on. Eventually, athletic directors and presidents will have a choice to make: Open up, or drop sports, lay off coaches and begin returning donations.

The complicating factor here is these are students playing -- although, in lieu of the recent decision to start paying kids to play, they can no longer claim to be true amateurs anymore, nor can they claim to be captive employees. Congrats, kids, you got your money, but a salary comes with certain responsibilities to your employer. If you didn't want to be held to those responsibilities, you shouldn't have pushed for the money in the first place.

They're not technically "kids", as they are all 18 years and older, no more a "kid" than a bunch of like-aged young adults fighting wars across the globe under our flag. But high school players are certainly kids, and they make up the future pool of players at the college level. The real question is, if 1-2 years of football got wiped out at the high school level, how would that affect future college football seasons?

These decisions are not easy, but anyone suggesting we shut down the economy for a year or more doesn't understand economics in a free-market society. Once everyone finally gets around to that realization, college football will go on. They can either realize it now, or a few months from now. But they will realize it.

Great Analysis. I agree about working hard on a treatment that can save lives.
I also believe we will be in contact with people in the future who may still be spreading the virus. Since the virus is spread all across the U.S., it's logical to think that most of us will be exposed to the disease in the next couple of years.
We still don't know who among us have been exposed to the disease and show no symptoms of illness. Think of these people as 'Silent Carriers'. Most of us haven't had any symptoms, and under today's rules, we aren't eligible to be tested. That rule will probably need to be changed for the safety of people everywhere.

My prediction is the NCAA will eventually cave in, they are good at that.
I expect the smaller colleges to take it on the chin, because the lower division games against Power 5 schools, may go away.
There is a possibility of less games, and possibly no conference championships played this year. I don't like that scenario, but if some teams dither around and drag it out... That is a possibility.
 

We_are_Bama

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I could just see giving a season a try, only to have to pull the plug. If there is another outbreak, then everything will be shut down again. People will be sent home from work once again and schools will have to prematurely end their school year once again, but this time in October or November. That would mean no college basketball and no NCAA tournament again next year, and certainly no college baseball. It was bad enough losing March madness and the college world series this year. But to lose all of that again? Would college athletics live through it? And what if, like HIV, no vaccine is ever found? I think we can kiss all.sports goodbye at that point
 

DogPatch

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I could just see giving a season a try, only to have to pull the plug. If there is another outbreak, then everything will be shut down again. People will be sent home from work once again and schools will have to prematurely end their school year once again, but this time in October or November. That would mean no college basketball and no NCAA tournament again next year, and certainly no college baseball. It was bad enough losing March madness and the college world series this year. But to lose all of that again? Would college athletics live through it? And what if, like HIV, no vaccine is ever found? I think we can kiss all.sports goodbye at that point
There will be another wave once the quarantines/stay-at-home orders/etc. are lifted. The key is for everyone to maintain social distancing and good hygiene so it is much smaller.
 
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Padreruf

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There will be another wave once the quarantines/stay-at-home orders/etc. are lifted. The key is for everyone to maintain social distancing and good hygiene so it is much smaller.
Yes...and I'm not sure the population as a whole is disciplined enough to do this. I, for one, will not be going anywhere in a large crowd for at least one year...if then.
 
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MOAN

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At what point do we all stop living just to live?? I mean there are some of us here that may very well have seen our last Bama football game already. At least it was a win against Michigan....but oh lets not forget that loss to the barn and to the Ogre lol!!! ;)

I can't help but think about that high school kid growing up like Josh Jacobs that has high hopes and dreams of getting out of poverty through a scholarship to play football and one day making it in the NFL. That kids life that will be forever changed if he doesn't get the chance to because of this fear brought on by a virus that chances are we will all one day get and the vast majority will survive from.

I pretty much seen the writing on the wall that I would probably never see Tuscaloosa again after the Tennessee game in 2015 with the long ride and walking I did that day and my health issues. As bad as my depression may be for my personal health reasons I can only imagine what it will be like for all those young men and women having their dreams and aspirations shattered if sports is cancelled beyond what has already been cancelled.

I hope the powers that be can figure out a way to not make things even worse for our younger generation, not for my sake but for theirs!! I shudder to think of one young persons life lost or destroyed in this shutdown in order to possibly keep someone like myself from contracting and dying from a virus that in all likelihood I might survive from anyway.

I think the final decision should be up to the players, coaches and fans as to whether the risk is worth the reward, not a bunch of politicians. I know how to protect myself from the virus the best I can and will keep doing the best that I can regardless if there is ever another ball game played. I think it is boiling down to people's freedom to choose for themselves their liberties vs someone else choosing it for them which to me is not freedom anymore if someone else chooses it for you.

I'm not smart enough to know the answer but I think JessN is!!! Agree with you 1000%!!! Greatest read I have read in a while!!! :)
 

NationalTitles17

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Bad idea. I see daily how bad the fans are at doing their part to FOLLOW THE LAW, much less be responsible enough on their own to limit the spread of this virus.
There's something else - without becoming too political - that has to be considered: Each person's responsibility to others in society as it pertains to a contagious infectious disease.

IOW, no, each individual is not capable of being the sole decision maker for themselves when their decisions will have a profound impact on others. This has been true from ancient times (think leprosy). It is well established in common law, case law, and actual law that individuals do not have the power in such times to deliberately place others at risk based solely on their own decisions. That is one of the fundamental functions of any form of government, to protect the public, and is part and parcel of the police powers of states under the constitution (of the country and of the states).
 

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