We are now less than 100 days until the scheduled start of college football season, and with the COVID-19 pandemic continuing to weigh heavily on our society, we are a long way from knowing anything concrete about what sports might look like this fall, if they happen at all. But even with so many unknowns, there are small signs of life that college football may actually return. The first of these came earlier this week, when the NCAA approved voluntary on-campus activities for football and basketball players beginning Monday, June 1. But the even bigger news for Texas A&M came today, with the SEC allowing on-campus activities to resume beginning Monday, June 8.
ALERT-Voluntary in-person athletics activities may resume on @SEC campuses, at the discretion of each university, beginning June 8 under strict supervision of designated university personnel and safety guidelines developed by each institution.
— Southeastern Conference (@SEC) May 22, 2020
So what does this mean in plain English? Essentially, it means these athletes can now use A&M facilities for workouts and practice on a voluntary basis, which makes sense especially in Texas, given that other gyms and fitness centers are now reopening. The schools still carry a heavy burden to protect their student athletes, but are likely better set up to do so than wherever the athletes would be working out otherwise. According to 12thMan.com:
In addition to standard infection prevention measures as approved by public health authorities such as facility cleaning and social distancing, recommended enhanced health and safety measures include:
Enhanced education of all team members on health and wellness best practices, including but not limited to preventing the spread of COVID-19
A 3-stage screening process that involves screening before student-athletes arrive on campus, within 72 hours of entering athletics facilities and on a daily basis upon resumption of athletics activities
Testing of symptomatic team members (including all student-athletes, coaches, team support and other appropriate individuals)
Immediate isolation of team members who are under investigation or diagnosed with COVID-19 followed by contact tracing, following CDC and local public health guidelines
A transition period that allows student-athletes to gradually adapt to full training and sport activity following a period of inactivity
On its own, this doesn’t mean much to the average fan. But as we search for any hint as to what college football will look like this fall, any progress should be considered positive. Getting student athletes back on campus is a necessary step, and we hope the first of many toward getting back the sport we love in a safe way come September.