(ThyBlackMan.com) Major news has happened in college football as the Big Ten Conference will be playing football this year after all. The coronavirus pandemic has shaken up all sports and knocked out collegiate sports especially hard as the Big Ten Conference decided to postpone Fall 2020 sports including college football back in August. The Big Ten is arguably the second most powerful conference in college football behind the Southeastern Conference and is led by commissioner Kevin Warren, perhaps the most powerful black executive in college sports. It has been a difficult month for commissioner Warren due to pressure from various groups from college football players, parents, alumni, and even media about the Big Ten’s handling of the 2020 college football season being shut down in 2020. The Big Ten football season will start in late October but that doesn’t mean all is well for that conference or any college football conference trying to play a season during a pandemic.
During the initial shutdown of the Big Ten football season, commissioner Kevin Warren said, “The over-arching reason and the over-arching issue we had to always keep at the top of our mind was the health, safety and wellness of our student-athletes was at the top of my list.” Doctors and scientists are still learning new things about COVID-19. Upon returning to play football, it is the medical testing that will occur that makes the biggest difference in the change.
The Big Ten “will require student-athletes, coaches, trainers and other individuals that are on the field for all practices and games to undergo daily antigen testing. Test results must be completed and recorded prior to each practice or game. Student-athletes who test positive for the coronavirus through point of contact (POC) daily testing would require a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test to confirm the result of the POC test.” This daily rapid testing is important to avoid potential tragedies like what happened to the late Jamain Stephens.
Jamain Stephens was a 20 year old defensive lineman who played football for Division II California University of Pennsylvania. Stephens died in early September, possibly from contracting COVID-19, as he died week after he told former high school classmates that he had tested positive for COVID-19. Stephens did not contract COVID-19 from football activities as his football team had their season suspended all competition for the fall semester in July in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. But it is important to note that Jamain Stephens was a young Black man who was the son of a former NFL player and a business administration major who was set to be a senior defensive lineman on the football team for the next football season. Sadly, his death should serve as another reminder that even young people are susceptible to this virus and especially Black people as college football analyst Desmond Howard has mentioned earlier.
There has been other scares for college football players related to coronavirus. Georgia State quarterback Mikele Colasurdo contracted COVID-19 over the 2020 summer break. The initial cardiac screening done by the school showed a possible case of Myocarditis, a heart inflammation that has been linked to the virus but that diagnosis was disproven by follow-up cardiac evaluations and he was cleared to play this season. It is important to mention that the Big Ten Conference and the other Power 5 college football conferences have much greater financial resources to handle coronavirus issues than Georgia State and California University of Pennsylvania. The Big Ten and other college football conferences and programs must keep all the people involved in their operation safe and healthy as impossible as it sounds.
Staff Writer; Mark Jackson