Although the University of Alabama will resume in-person learning for the fall semester, much speculation has gone on about how its 2020 football season will be conducted.
The university is still struggling to figure out how to have football games. An article “COVID-tracking app could be key to University of Alabama reopening, including college football” by Al.com‘s Dennis Pillion described a possible approach.
Sue Feldman, a UAB associate professor of health informatics who is overseeing the technology aspects of the re-entry plan, said in addition to working on the contact tracing app, her group is working on ways to use technology to reduce the risk of large gatherings of people.
Feldman said that while it’s early in the process, attending a college sporting event in the future might be more like an airline flight, where people are required to check-in ahead of time and report that they are not showing symptoms of COVID-19.
“We’ve become accustomed to getting our plane ticket 24 hours before takeoff,” Feldman said. “You might get your event ticket 48 hours before, or 72 hours before the event. And with [showing] no symptoms.”
If a person who is asymptomatic checks in in this manner it will simply mean that super-spreaders may still be in the football crowd. Across from Bryant Denny Stadium is a cemetery where many graves of deceased Bama fans are decorated for the football season with floral “A’s” and houndstooth ribbons. If the process backfires there may be many more Bama fans joining them six feet under.
There is a nationwide problem with student athletes who have become infected with the Coronavirus. Purportedly five football players at the University of Alabama have tested positive. The way in which the University of Mississippi responded to an athlete and staff member who were infected was covered in The Clarion Ledger by Nick Suss. Two people who tested positive lived on campus and were asymptomatic carriers. They are both self-isolating. (Another athlete not living on campus who tested positive in a pre-screening for the Coronavirus was not be allowed to return.)
If college football games begin again, both players and fans may be required to wear masks. In Japan people in amusement parks who are riding a roller coaster are forbidden to scream. It will be unlikely that Bama fans during a game will not be repeatedly yelling Roll Tide Roll at the top of their lungs even if their screams are muffled by masks. How the Million Dollar Band can perform is another question. Throughout the nation the activities of marching bands have been greatly curtailed due to the Coronavirus. The number of fans allowed into stadiums will likely be severely restricted.
The University of Alabama Football Program has already assigned seats for the members of its Tide Pride program. As yet there have been no plans made public about how the games will be played and how the fans will be accommodated.