Several medical experts with key roles in advising the National Collegiate Athletic Association offered discouraging words about fall sports competition in a conference call with reporters Thursday, according to news reports.
“I feel like the Titanic. We have hit the iceberg, and we’re trying to make decisions of what time should we have the band play,” ESPN quoted Dr. Carlos Del Rio, executive associate dean at Emory University and a member of the NCAA’s COVID-19 advisory panel, as saying. “We need to focus on what’s important. What’s important right now is we need to control this virus. Not having fall sports this year, in controlling this virus, would be to me the No. 1 priority.”
Most college sports conferences have opted not to hold intercollegiate competition this fall, but several leagues that play high-profile (and high-dollar) football are planning to play on.
Dr. Colleen Kraft, an associate professor of infectious at Emory and member of the NCAA panel, said of the leagues planning to compete: “There will be transmissions [of COVID-19], and they will have to stop their games,” according to ESPN.
Officials at the Big Ten and the Pac-12, the two leagues in the Power Five football series that have opted not to play this fall, have especially cited concerns about apparently increased incidence of myocarditis, a potentially deadly heart condition, related to COVID-19. The NCAA’s chief medical officer, Dr. Brian Hainline, said on the conference call that between 1 and 2 percent of all athletes who’ve been tested by NCAA members have tested positive for the coronavirus, and that at least a dozen have myocarditis, ESPN reported.
Dr. Kraft said colleges were “playing with fire” regarding myocarditis.