New Survey Shows NCAA Players’ Reactions to How Teams Have Handled COVID-19by Andersen Pickard August 20, 2020 0 comments
College football has been one of the most talked-about subjects in recent weeks as conferences work on navigating the waters of COVID-19 in an attempt to save their season.
Any decision a college makes is surely going to get some backlash from the public, but we don’t really know how the players feel.
That is, until now.
Survey analysts Charlotte Spector and Nate Goldstein conducted a survey to see how a large group of college football players felt about the upcoming season. The survey, which was shared with Prime Time Sports Talk, polled 100 athletes from 16 different conferences, including 58 from Power Five conferences.
Spector and Goldstein published the first version of their survey in June before deciding to conduct a second survey in late July and early August due to the fast-changing nature of the pandemic, schools’ protocols, the awareness of the virus, and more.
90 subjects polled said they have participated in workouts with their team already this summer. Of that group, 60 of them said that they were aware of at least one teammate who tested positive following this workout. 19 said that they were not sure. Of the 90 players who had already worked out with their team, eight said they had tested positive themselves.
Out of the group of players who did not have a teammate (or themselves) test positive, 18 percent said they were very concerned that they or a teammate would be infected if the season continued on. 29 percent said they were somewhat concerned and a near-majority of 47 percent said they were not so concerned.
The next portion of the survey broke down what schools were doing to put protocols in place and save the season. Only 58 of the 100 students said that their school implemented frequent testing for players and coaches during summer workouts, while 59 said that their school had made known a plan for contact tracing if such a process was necessary.
This is a concerningly low number considering every professional sports team and many public locations (hospitals, airports, etc.) have had testing protocols implemented for months. With that said, there is optimism that more schools will begin frequent testing and contact tracing when formal workouts and practices ramp up further.
In terms of halting the virus, the following breakdown shows schools’ plans to reduce the spread before anyone tested positive:
- 33 players said their school provided single-occupancy rooms in all player dorms
- 45 players said their school made separate facilities, like hotels and dorms, available to isolate sick players
- 58 players said their school has mandated social distancing off the field
- 73 players said their school provided PPE (masks, disinfectants, etc.) to all coaches, staff, and players
- 56 players said their school implemented guidelines stating they must wear a mask and gloves during practice
- 34 players said their school is not allowing contact during practice
While players are showing concern regarding the pandemic, the general sense is that they feel very comfortable with the policies and actions their schools are taking. 78 students said they were either very comfortable or somewhat comfortable, leaving just 22 students who felt not as safe with their schools’ decisions.
This is really important because collegiate athletes can sometimes be put in a tough situation. They know that their role is earned and that there are thousands of people who would love to have their job. This puts pressure on the players to stay quiet and keep playing despite feeling uncomfortable. The fact that schools have made players feel comfortable is incredibly important during a time where uncertainty is an everyday emotion.
The next question focused on an interesting point that has been suggested by coaches: immunity. Some coaches want their players to work out with their teammates and intentionally become infected so they could have immunity during the season. Players, however, did not welcome this as much as their coaches did, although there was a wide variety of results. 50 players opposed the idea while 39 players somewhat or strongly supported it. 11 players were unsure at the time.
Many players also showed trust in their own conferences as 56 players supported the recent decision by some conferences to postpone the fall season. 34 players were opposed; 10 were unsure.
The idea of moving the season to the fall? 48 players opposed such an idea, while 44 showed their support.
With that said, it is clear that the college football players just want to play. Essentially, while they all have their own opinions regarding when the season should be held, their main priority is to play football and represent their school. This was reflected as 90 players said they would stay at their school if the season was delayed. Eight players were unsure, while just one player said they would transfer to a school that was playing and another said they would defer their enrollment.
There were similarly strong results in the next question, which looked at what players would do if the season was completely cancelled, as opposed to delayed, which the last question referenced. 85 players said they would stay at their school, while 12 were unsure.
The survey also asked players what they would prefer to do if the pandemic took away a significant amount of practice time. While 22 players were undecided on the matter, 49 said the fall season would have to be delayed in such a case and 29 said the season should proceed as usual.
Finally, the poll asked players on the impact of allowing or banning fans. 47 players said they agreed that limiting or preventing fans from attending is important to protect both their health and the health of the fans themselves. 39 players said that not having fans significantly detracts from the overall experience of games days and college football in general.
While there are still a lot of question marks, it’s important to know how college football players feel regarding the situations at hand. It is obvious that they live and breathe football, but also obvious that these players understand how horrible the coronavirus is. As such, they recognize that plans need to be in place in order to have a successful season.
As you wait for the thrill of a touchdown or a loose football on a Saturday this fall, keep in mind the commitment and best interest of the collegiate athletes. We can conquer this pandemic and we can have sports back. From athlete to celebrity to the average person, everyone must do their part.
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