OPINION | Postponing college sports is safest option

The girls tennis team at Pine Valley High School in St. George still carries on with after-school practices and meets, despite the ongoing pandemic. Even while high school sports continue, Brock Doman says postponing college sports is still the safest decision. Photo by Tianna Major.

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Every summer is when we sports fans start itching for college football to begin and athletes to take the field again, and even while high school sports continue this fall, postponing the college football season until spring is the safest decision for both fans and players.

Instead of trying to muster through COVID-19 and the regulations, most colleges throughout the state have suspended their fall seasons and pushed it back for a hopeful start date the upcoming spring.

As for high school football in Utah, it looks slightly different. As fans enter the stadium, temperature checks, masks, and social distancing are happening all around.

Because high school football games usually compete within the region, overall transportation isn’t a big factor in spreading the virus.

High school football will be competing in local games this weekend. The distance from Dixie High School to Desert Hills High School is just 10 miles. At the collegiate level, The University of Oregon was scheduled to play Ohio State in Eugene, Oregon, the distance between being almost 2,500 miles, which allows for the virus to spread much quicker and further.

After Ohio State and Oregon were set to play, these two collegiate teams were planning to play other state universities where the coronavirus can potentially spread further and increase the number of positive tests throughout the nation.

I, along with many others across the nation, am upset about the postponement of our football games; however, having competed in high school and Dixie State University football myself, I understand the risk and reward side of moving the season to spring.

I have also seen the differences first-hand in the two levels. Overall, the amount of individuals it takes to run a collegiate football program is significantly higher than a high school team. NCAA rules currently allow a university to hold a head coach, nine assistant coaches and four graduate assistants. High school teams usually hold less than 10 total coaches on the team. Considering that all coaches travel, along with the 125 players available, this skyrockets the potential for the virus to spread throughout the team and their oppositions.

When most colleges travel, coaches, players, fan bases, pep-bands and cheerleaders stay overnight in the same hotel, allowing another hot spot for the coronavirus to accumulate at visiting cities and universities.

To put this into perspective, DSU had just four home games scheduled for the 2020 season. If each team that comes to town brings half their roster (60 players) to travel along with the 20 total coaches – including trainers and broadcasters – that’s roughly 80 individuals staying at the same location. If four different teams stay at this one hotel, that’s 320 additional individuals staying the weekend in the city.

This permits a much higher amount of opportunity for the coronavirus to spread at a greater rate than the local high school football games that require temperature checks.

Being a football fan, it is sad to see most of football is canceled throughout the state. There is no question about that; however, if we look at the bigger picture here, it just makes sense.

If the coronavirus hit even harder than it already has in St. George, it would be even more devastating to this city. Believe me, I love football. My wife would probably say I love football too much. On the other hand, I also want the coronavirus numbers to drop. I want life to return to not having to wear masks everywhere I go, and worry about mine and my families protection from the virus. Right now, I believe having football in St. George is not the way to move forward with the return to safety.

As eager as we are for the Trailblazers to take the field in 2020, we don’t need to rush these teams back onto the field to compromise their safety. For now, we’ll have to possibly choose other teams that will be competing outside of the state or figure out how we can help out the teams we normally would cheer for.

I am at the edge of my seat and will be more excited than ever for college football to return to its “normality.” More importantly, I want the safety of players, fans and coaches to be ensured before we move forward with the season.

For now, I’ll be reading updates, cheering on my old high school team, and anxiously awaiting for the Trailblazers to take the field once again.