Kurt Streeter, a sports columnist for The Times, writes about colleges’ determination to hold a football season during the pandemic.
The news that Alabama Coach Nick Saban tested positive this week for the coronavirus gave an uppercut jolt to big-time college football, which is doing all it can to continue with its season — pandemic be damned.
What will the jolt change?
So far, after announcing the positive test, Saban has said he feels fine. “I’m not really concerned that much about my health,” he told reporters in a Zoom call from the isolation of his home.
This is, of course, an unpredictable disease. Saban is 68 years old, a particularly vulnerable age for this virus. But that does not seem to matter to major college football, which keeps twisting itself into knots, straining to rationalize playing games amid a pandemic that has led to at least 217,000 deaths in the United States — with no end in sight.
Even with infection hitting its most famous coach, the mind-set of the college game’s most vigorous enablers has not altered. They are bent on moving forward.
“He knows the risks,” they say. “Let’s keep going.”
Just look at how this season is unfolding. We’ve got teams playing on campuses that are seeding outbreaks in cities, regions and towns. Tuscaloosa, the University of Alabama’s home, is just one of them.
None of that matters to those who would grasp for any rationalization just so they can have some college football.
Move on, they say. Go ahead and play.