Still, the doctors on the call struck a more alarming tone than Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby and SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey did the day before, when they laid out why they were proceeding with plans for a season when other Power 5 conferences, the Pac-12 and the Big Ten, determined it was not safe to do so. A prime consideration, they said, was they had time to make a decision after moving their condensed schedules back to Sept. 26.
The Coronavirus Outbreak
Sports and the Virus
Updated Sept. 11, 2020
Here’s what’s happening as the world of sports slowly comes back to life:
- Baseball plans to hold its playoff games at four stadiums in Southern California and Texas, with the World Series held at the Texas Rangers’ new ballpark.
- N.F.L. teams have spent years trying to create over-the-top entertainment for fans inside stadiums. This year, they’ll just be trying to cover up echoes from empty seats.
- September Saturdays at Penn State are usually the apex of a week of hype. Now, as at other college football destinations, the approach of autumn has been unusually quiet there.
“The biggest argument is nobody’s told us that it’s poorly advised to go forward and do what we are doing,” Bowlsby said of the case for playing. “If we get to a place where our doctors and scientists say you know what? You’ve got two wheels off the track and you’re headed for a train wreck, we will pivot that day.”
The A.C.C. issued a statement on Tuesday that indicated it would move forward with a season; leaders of the conference’s schools were scheduled to meet Thursday afternoon.
The SEC, Big 12 and A.C.C. are plowing forward in parts of the country — mostly states throughout the South — where communities’ hospitals are being pushed to capacity and per capita infection rates far exceed the five new cases per 100,000 residents that del Rio said communities should be striving to reach.
In the Big 12, for example, Lubbock County, Tex., home to Texas Tech, averaged 25 new cases per 100,000 over the last seven days, and McLennan County, Tex., home to Baylor, was averaging just over 23, according to a New York Times database. In the SEC, Clarke County, which includes the University of Georgia, has averaged just over 32 new cases per 100,000 people over the last seven days, and the districts around the University of Mississippi and Louisiana State have reported just over 29 cases per 100,000 per day in the last week.
Also troublesome, the doctors said, is the uncertainty about myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart that has been linked in cases to cardiac arrest, that has turned up in “about a dozen” college athletes who have tested positive for the virus, according to Hainline. (He said about 1 to 2 percent of college athletes working out with their teams have tested positive for the virus.)
Among those who have encountered myocarditis is Brady Feeney, a freshman lineman at Indiana, whose mother detailed his condition in a Facebook post. Also, Michael Ojo, a former basketball player at Florida State who had tested positive for the virus, died of a heart attack last week at age 27 during a practice for his professional team in Serbia.