Kirk’s Korner: Are Sports More Dangerous to Athletes Than the Alternative?

FAYETTEVILLE — COVID-19 is very real and it’s extremely dangerous.

I fully realize many have it and get over it with little to no symptoms or consequences. I also fully realize personally I have had four friends die with it and at least two more in very, very bad shape as I write this.

One who passed away was a 40-year-old woman who had no underlying medical conditions. The virus attacked her kidneys and she lost the battle 10 days ago.

I wrote that personal stuff to acknowledge I am fully aware of COVID-19 and how it can cause some serious medical issues. Some with personal gain for themselves involved will try to tell you there’s no danger in college athletes playing with this virus present.

The virus can attack the lungs, heart and kidneys and possibly other parts of the body. But five college football players have already suffered from myocarditis. A pitcher aged 27 with the Boston Red Sox is out for the season with that as well.

So despite what some will try to peddle yes there’s a risk. The SEC Commissioner and those at the other conferences are fully aware of the risks. But with that said is it safer to cancel football?

The first thought is to obviously answer yes. And with possible lawsuits coming up later if athletes or coaches suffer long-term consequences with health due to COVID-19 maybe it is yes.

But once again are you completely certain the athletes are safer if football is canceled? The University of Arkansas and others have gone a few weeks without anyone testing positive. Less than 10 football players and an assistant coach or two have had it, but all are back with the Razorbacks now and have been for several days.

Here’s something for thought before just jumping on board to cancel the fall football season. I will use Arkansas as an example here, but you can substitute any other school in as well.

Sam Pittman and his staff are dealing with athletes with the majority being between the ages of 18-23. At Arkansas the athletes have some structure. They are required to wear masks when around others, social distancing is maintained as much as possible and they have access to testing. The colleges have medical staffs that can help with any issues.

If football is canceled how many young people that age are going to wear a mask when not in a structured setting? You and I both know few, if any, will do that nor would myself at that age or any person reading this. The fact athletes can be tested regularly is a valuable tool.

Yes there are risks with football being played. But aren’t there risks if the athletes don’t have football and are at bars and other crowded places more often with no games or practices? What if they go to work to make a little extra money is there not risks at jobs they will do?

This is not to say they should or shouldn’t play, that isn’t my decision. Obviously with my job I hope they play, but once again the status of reporters will have no bearing, nor should it, on any decision made regarding fall football.

When you are talking about student-athletes ages say 18-23 don’t expect them to quarantine on their own and stay home if no football. So this is all something that needs to be considered before a decision is made.

Sure there are risks associated with COVID-19 if they play, but does anyone really think there’s no risks with someone playing football anyway? Football is a dangerous game and was before COVID-19 ever appeared.

It’s good that Greg Sankey and the SEC along with hopefully the ACC and Big 12 are taking their time studying all the options. Athletes that age will either be involved in sports with a structured setting or they will find something else to occupy their time.