While the coronavirus is causing concern about athletes, fans, and students returning to college sports in the fall, another concern is causing concern specifically for athletes. Myocarditis, a rare heart condition linked to viral infections, including coronavirus, can cause heart damage and in rare cases cardiac arrest.
Conference officials, college executives, and athletic doctors are concerned about the coronavirus and its link to this condition. In all considerations for bringing back NCAA sports, this remains a significant hurdle.
The Mid-American Conference was the first to announce it would postpone fall sports. “What we don’t know was really haunting us, and that’s why we came to our final decision,” Northern Illinois athletic director Sean Frazier said. “That’s part of the data that our presidents used. This mom gave us a play-by-play. That stuff is extremely scary.”
Limited data on heart conditions and coronavirus also make officials hesitant to allow athletes to play. Dr. John MacKnight, the head primary care team physician at the University of Virginia, told ESPN, “There have been some concerns raised for that very reason: Do you not have uneasiness about having athletes participating knowing that you don’t know what that longer-range outlook is? The answer is of course, yes,” he said. “We don’t have enough information to say this is the likelihood that this will or will not happen.”
In some cases, athletes are being screened for heart conditions, as well as coronavirus symptoms. On August 11, two conferences, the Big Ten and Pac-12 conferences announced they would postpone the Fall 2020 season. The Big Ten and Pac-12 are two of the Power 5 conferences that make up college football. The others are the ACC, Big 12 and SEC.
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