There hadn’t been any updates from the Carolina football program following the shutdown of athletics across campus after 37 athletes tested positive for COVID-19. One was able to reasonably assume without any real concrete evidence that at least a handful of the athletes were on the football team, and now thanks to Mack Brown we have confirmation mixed with some good news.
ABC 11 got a chance to speak with Mack Brown about not only the state of Carolina football, but football across the ACC. To start with the bad news: yes, there were players on the football team that tested positive for COVID-19. The good news, however, is that according to Brown the players either had minor symptoms or they were asymptomatic. All of the players that tested positive are now healthy again, and the football team is ready to get rolling again.
While the football team is healthy, there is the challenging task to keep it that way. The team is implementing a number of changes to keep everyone safe, including wearing masks during workouts and weightlifting, ordering shields for helmets, and equipping coaches with six-foot-long sticks to keep appropriate distances. Yes, you read that correctly: Mack Brown will be walking around with a six-foot stick in order to keep his distance from other people. What a time to be alive.
With all these changes in place, players and staff can still opt out if they feel uncomfortable. Here’s what Mack Brown had to say about making players feel comfortable with their decisions going into the season:
“It’s not only important to tell your players that they don’t have to play if they don’t feel comfortable. It’s important that they believe you,” Brown said. “There’s a lot of macho and young people, young men in college football. This (the virus) is real stuff. If you are uncomfortable at all or anxious, if you want to miss workouts, if you don’t want to play, let’s do it.”
As of right now, the entire ACC is scheduled to take the field in September. As of right now no Power Five conference has decided to postpone their season until the spring, which is good news depending on how you look at it. Of course the number one priority right now is safety, even when looking at the severe financial consequences that would transpire by holding off the season until the spring. In an ideal world consistent testing should go a long way in making sure that players aren’t taking the field with COVID-19. However, the truth is that we just don’t know what measures will or will not help prevent the spread of the virus. Uncertainty has been the overwhelming theme of 2020, and the hits will just keep coming as college sports make an attempt to resume.
What do you think about the new measures that UNC is taking in order to continue football activities? Do you think science will show kindness to an outdoor contact sport? Or is having any kind of sports competition safely right now too big of an obstacle to overcome? Let us know in the comments below.