There is an old saying “Don’t kill the messenger” that I want to make as a prelude to this article. I, like many around the nation, love college sports and really desire and hope to see it return this fall. I hated to see March Madness cancelled due to the Coronavirus pandemic. But the stark reality here is, what has changed since then? Absolutely nothing. In fact, we are in worse shape now than in March. See exhibit A below.
Our elected officials and American citizens had one job, an extremely important job, “flatten the curve” to get this pandemic in our rear view mirror by July. We didn’t flatten the curve, we impregnated it from the looks of the graph above. Collectively, we effed ourselves so we will be dealing with partial or empty stadiums the rest of the year and more economic harm as a result.
Now the question becomes, should college athletes play sports this fall like the pro leagues? The answer should be an obvious NO but for many living in the fantasy world that this COVID-19 virus is a hoax, that its no worse than the Flu, I will explain what you didn’t learn about medical science and pharmacology in college like I did.
But first, before I go into science, I want to point out that this is a logistics nightmare. No bubble, no six or seven figure salaries for the athletes putting them in harm’s way, daily testing for about 80+ college football players that probably isn’t cheap. College athletes being expected to social distance and stay in their hotel rooms on the road like Major League Baseball is asking its players to do. Like that this would work well with 18-23 year olds. And its OK to play sweaty sports and tackle others in a pandemic when some schools have went to all online classes this fall?
Plus, one outbreak could totally shut down a 15 player college basketball team like we have seen thus far in Major League Soccer with the FC Dallas and Nashville SC.
Now onto the science. We keep hearing that, although the daily case numbers have risen, the death rate hasn’t. But the death rate is a 3 to 6 week trailing return since we are getting better at treating the virus and extending lives to give patients a chance to recover and beat the virus. However, the problem that gets totally overlooked with this mindset and something that media hasn’t focused in on enough: what are the long-term effects of this virus?
Long Term Effects?
We are only six to seven months into this pandemic. We simply don’t know enough about this virus yet and if there will be long-term effects from contracting it. So far, the early reports are that virus can do damage to organ systems like the heart, brain, lungs and kidneys. We know that the Varicella-Zoster virus that causes chickenpox can lead to shingles later in life because the virus lays latent in nerve cells. This is a painful, non-life threatening condition but we haven’t had years of experience to see what the COVID-19 will cause later on down the line.
We know that some patients who had mild COVID-19 symptoms are experiencing chronic fatigue. There are reports that the virus can facilitate strokes. We know that COVID-19 virus primarily attacks the lungs and can totally destroy the lung architecture. We know that some viral infections leave behind some of their viral DNA that can cause heart valve damage.
We know that viruses are more difficult to treat overall than bacteria or fungal infections. We still don’t have a cure for the common cold virus, so we just treat the symptoms. We haven’t eradicated HIV but we can suppress it and prolong life. Sometimes the best we can do with viruses when it comes to drug therapy is to just shorten its duration. Vaccines and new drugs take time to prove safety and efficacy even if they are fast-tracked by the FDA. So we must be patient with science and the process, not try to rush everything.
Really, even Dr Fauci says that we simply don’t know enough about the long-term ramifications of this virus. For this reason, if I had the power to make the decision, I would give this a full year to allow medical science to catch up and learn more about the virus. Better to use caution than go plundering into the great unknown with young kids who aren’t making millions, simply for our entertainment. Let the pro athletes entertain us and play out this experiment until then. Reevaluate the situation in early January.
Note: A really good article on the long-term effects of the COVID-10 virus can be found HERE