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Big Ten Football Reverses Decision Expects to Play 8 Games Amid COVID-19



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Big Ten Football reverses its decision to shut down the sport amid COVID-19. The decision was made on Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2020. The season will begin the weekend of Oct. 23-24  and they are expected to play eight games.

The decision to halt all fall sports was made on August 11. However, those in favor of resuming the football season scored a victory after a  unanimous vote to return to the field. According to the conference’s news release, the fate of other sports “will be announced shortly.”

Daily Rapid Antigen Testing

COVID-19 testing was a major reason why the game was put on hold in the first place.

UW Chancellor Rebecca Blank was one of the 11 Council of Presidents and Chancellor members to vote in favor of postponing the fall football season.  She has since relayed that her questions about playing football have now been answered. In a statement released on Wednesday Blank said:

Medical advisors to the Big Ten have produced clear protocols for testing, isolation, and return to play. They also have a protocol to check any athletes who become ill for heart-related problems. With these protocols, the health concerns that I had in August have been allayed. The Big Ten has also agreed to pay for the testing, which will be done in a uniform manner in all schools.

Daily antigen testing is to begin no later than Sept. 30 for everyone allowed on the field. The testing protocol is expected to go as follows:

• Players will be given rapid tests for breakfast. A negative result gives players permission to enter the practice field.

• Anyone that tests positive will be given a slower, polymerase chain reaction testing.

• For those that test positive, a mandatory 21-day leave of absence is enforced with comprehensive cardiac testing.

Big tenSince the onset, the Big Ten Football presidents have always been concerned about the possibility of myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle. Myocarditis is the 3rd leading cause of sudden death in children and young adults.

Athletic types and otherwise healthy young people from the ages of puberty through the early 30s are susceptible to this disease.  Males are twice as likely to be affected than females. The most common cause of myocarditis is a viral infection.

The Big Ten’s Medical Subcommittee outlines regular football practices and competition will stop for at least 7 days if the following occur:

  1. A football team’s positivity rate is greater than 5 percent.
  2. The individual population positivity rate is greater than 7.5 percent, which includes coaches, trainers, and other staff in contact with players.

Additionally, the committee will reassess the metric for further approval.

Resuming Football is Not a Touchdown for All

Many parents and players have been supportive of the Big Ten resuming football, for the love of the game, and for hopes of being drafted to the NFL.  Not everyone is happy about the league’s vote to reverse its decision. The health department for Dane County and the City of Madison said:

The decision to hold the football season right now has wide-reaching impacts beyond athlete and student safety and will impact the health and safety of many people in Dane County.

They are powerless over Camp Randall Stadium and the UW-Madison campus. They will, however, enforce limiting the number of people allowed to gather outside of the stadium in order to prevent the spread of the virus throughout the county.

New COVID-19 cases are on the rise at colleges and universities. According to The New YorknTimes, data shows more than 81,000 infections have been counted at colleges since late July and more than 61,000 of those cases came about in the latter part of August.

Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway is concerned about seeing a spike in cases as a result of partying and tailgating.  She said, “Right now, the increase in COVID-19 cases we are seeing are largely concentrated among UW students.”

The Badgers football team reported that 42 players and staff members have tested positive for COVID-19 on the same date the Big Ten reversed its decision to resume the football season.

Written by Sheree Bynum
Edited by Cathy Milne-Ware


NBC Right Now: Big Ten football expected to return Oct. 17 with 8-game season

Wisconsin State Journal: Big Ten announces football returning Oct. 23-24; Steve Apps

The New York Times: Tracking Covid at U.S. Colleges and Universities

Myocarditis Foundation: Discover Myocarditis Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

Featured Image Courtesy of WikiImages’ Pixabay Page – Creative Commons License

Inset Image Courtesy of Davey83’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License

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