Return to normal? Health experts believe it’s too soon for football

On Friday night, a bit of normalcy returned to high school football fields across Indiana.

Balls spun through the air. Shoulder pads smacked together as tacklers converged on a run. The sideline jumped in unison. Coaches yelled “Screeeeeeen!” Numbers on scoreboards jumped by sixes, ones, and threes.

This is the fall sports season as America has come to know it. But even with the opening Friday of high school football, there is something odd about it in the era of COVID-19, and it’s not just the masks players are wearing on the sideline.

A simple question lingers: If it’s possible to hear “Touchdown, Panthers” over a public address system this fall, why will fans not hear “Touchdown, Hoosiers”? Why is it “Touchdown, Cougars,” but not “Touchdown, Boilermakers”?

At the college level, the Big Ten and the Pac-12 don’t want to bear the risks of contact sports during a pandemic, as deaths from the virus exceed 1,000 in the U.S. every day. But the SEC, ACC, and Big 12 press forward. Colleges in Indiana, including IU, Purdue, and Ball State, are sidelined for the fall, while the state’s prep teams are back on the field. The landscape is filled with contradictions.

So why do these differences exist? And should they?

“We’re seeing over and over, people looking at the same numbers and coming to different conclusions,” said Dr. Kathleen Bachynski, a professor of public health at Muhlenberg College. “So this clearly isn’t completely driven by science. Some of this is cultural and ethical kinds of questions about values.”

This certainly isn’t the first time football’s virtue has been pitted against its risk. Bachynski authored “No Game for Boys to Play,” a history of youth football highlighting moments where “saving the game” was prioritized over player safety. A debate now rages about where virus transmission fits in a spectrum with concussions and broken bones.

Public health experts warn against playing close-contact sports amid a pandemic, especially with a virus so contagious and such a large percentage of cases being asymptomatic. Proponents of the game point to low mortality rates for youth with COVID-19, and the right of families to make choices about risk.

But the footballs flying through the sky — and the ones that aren’t — may have more to do with a wish than a reality.

“We’re seeing, especially in places where college football or where college sports are highly valued, a strong impulse to bring it back,” Bachynski said. “I speculate that’s because it represents a sense of normalcy. On the other hand, not having sports represents, well, something is wrong here.”

***
When it comes to the pandemic, there has been something wrong for a very long time.

More than 174,000 Americans have died since late February, the largest total of any nation on earth, according to Johns Hopkins University. That’s 53.26 deaths per every 100,000 people in the country, the world’s 11th-highest rate. America’s case-fatality ratio, 3.1%, ranks 12th out of the world’s 20 most affected countries.

While daily totals of new cases in the U.S. began to fall in April, another sharp rise began in mid-June, along with an increase in positivity rates — which means those figures weren’t attributable only to increases in testing. There was community spread, across many states.

As long as significant amounts of COVID-19 remained in local communities, it was a major concern for colleges. Especially because those institutions were about to bring students from all over the country back to campus, housing them in dorms and giving them a venue to socialize.

A hint of the NCAA’s worries came in mid-July when it released medical guidelines for the coming season. Along with testing protocols, the NCAA provided a line graph with daily case totals in the U.S., noting a projected trend line from April. “Where we thought we’d be,” it read. The endpoint for “Where we are” was at the top of a red line still trending steeply upward.

A month later, the Mid-American Conference decided fall sports were too risky. Two Power 5 conferences, the Big Ten and Pac-12, also pulled out. The SEC, ACC, and Big 12 refused to budge, however.

The debate of “to play or not to play” seemed somewhat silly to Carlos del Rio, a fellow with the Infectious Diseases Society of America. The testing supply chain has been under question. Turnaround times to get test results are still too slow in some places. And the virus is spreading.

“I feel like the Titanic. We have hit the iceberg,” del Rio said, “and we are trying to make decisions about what time we should have the band play.”

Epidemiologists will acknowledge there are levels of risk. College football teams live on campuses. Prep teams consist of athletes in a community, which may be more or less affected by the pandemic. In fact, colleges may be in the riskiest position, Bachynski said, because while pros have all the money and resources to “bubble” their athletes, colleges have the means to test but not truly isolate.

Unless, of course, classes are moved online, which ACC schools North Carolina and North Carolina State did following recent spikes of COVID-19 on campus.

The prep ranks are still accepting significant risks, though. The three tools society currently has to quell the pandemic are social-distancing, mask-wearing, and hand-washing.

At all levels, football lacks those things.

“College teams have recognized that,” said Thomas Duszynski, the Epidemiology Education Director at IUPUI’s Fairbanks School of Public Health. “We don’t have a vaccine. We don’t have a treatment. In the absence of that, you are going to have infections. So no, it’s not safe.”

Skeptics will point to the death totals. Fewer than 300 Americans between the ages of 5 and 24 have died from COVID-19, according to the Centers for Disease Control. But there are worries about myocarditis, a potential heart aftereffect. Studies have also shown 40 percent of cases of COVID-19 are asymptotic, which means young, seemingly healthy people could have the disease and spread it.

The CDC defines “close contact” with an infected individual as being within six feet for more than 15 minutes. Football players won’t be that close on each play, but …

“You are not going out there and making one play and then you are done for the season, right?” Duszynski said. “It’s repeated through three hours of game time or however long it lasts. There is heavy breathing and yelling and a lot of talking. All of those things increase risk.”

Duszynski would, ideally, want zero cases of COVID-19 in a community before large group gatherings and contact sports are allowed, especially considering the long-term effects of the disease aren’t fully known.

The next safest bar is the 5 percent positivity threshold the World Health Organization set for reopening. In the last two recorded weeks, 7.5 percent of COVID-19 tests returned positive in Indiana. That’s too much for contact sports, Bachynski said.

“We’re trying to think about balancing risk and benefits,” Bachynski said. “If our priority is making in-person schools as low risk as possible, we are going to have to pick some lower-risk extra-curriculars to at least start with and wait and see what the numbers do.

“You can offer physical activity and fun and some kind of opportunity for exercise in a way that’s lower risk than wrestling and football.”

Wait until the spring, Bachynski and Duszynski suggest.

But the SEC, ACC, and Big 12 are planning on playing this fall. In the prep ranks, 15 states have delayed until the spring, including Michigan, Illinois, and California. Another 19 are going forward this fall, including Ohio and Alabama. Most of the southeastern states, including Georgia and Florida, have opted to delay the fall season’s start.

It’s a mixed response, which Indiana High School Athletic Association commissioner Paul Neidig has been tracking. He’s also watching the state’s test positivity rate, communicating with the governor’s office and state health department. There have already been teams, such as New Palestine and Seeger, that have had to cancel games.

He’s fielding calls from concerned parents. But more often, parents have called to tell Neidig they want football now.

“There’s a harmful effect on kids that don’t get to participate,” Neidig said. “They are not in contact with their school, not in contact with their coaches. I think it is an important question to ask. What is the greater risk, not being in touch, not having that sports structure around a kid, or the risk of COVID?”

***

Of course, an IHSAA commissioner can run down a list of positives that high school sports provide.

Sports teach valuable lessons about teamwork. They set the stage for friendships and mentorship. They help foster community and school pride.

There are negative consequences when sports are lost. A recent University of Wisconsin study found 68% of high school athletes reported mild to severe depression, an increase from 31% in past studies. They also reported a 50% decrease in activity during the pandemic.

Neidig points to AAU sports, as well. They continued to operate during the pandemic. In his opinion, the IHSAA and its member schools can at least try to make athletics safer, asking questions, checking temperatures, and helping to contact trace when there is an outbreak. At this point, testing isn’t cheap enough for the IHSAA to mandate it for participation.

Ultimately, participation is a choice.

“They are still under the decision-making powers of their families, their parents,” Neidig said. “If high school kids and their parents want to play, we are still offering that platform. But certainly, if a family doesn’t want them to, like if they thought the risk of a concussive event was too great, they would make the choice not to participate.”

Neidig sides with individual responsibility, though he does hope people have learned from the spikes in COVID-19 that followed Memorial Day and July 4.

Labor Day is coming up.

“The other thing that’s really concerning to me, and we’ve had a couple of cases of this, where families are not being completely truthful with exposure and they’ve gone ahead and sent their student-athlete to practice and they’ve actually had to quarantine an entire team,” Neidig said. “I look at it as a selfish decision to send their child knowing they should not be going. That puts everyone at risk.

“That kind of behavior will derail what we are trying to do here.”

What the IHSAA hopes to do, if possible, is add a bit of normalcy back to high school students’ lives. Normalcy back into the lives of parents and family members, as well.

Health experts just worry it’s not time for tackle football. Bachynski, in particular, thinks outdoor sports where it’s possible to keep a distance, such as cross country, golf, and tennis, are good to go.

Just not football.

“I think we, culturally, have a lot of ideas of what high school sports are supposed to look like. It’s easy for this to break down into two camps, everybody needs to stay indoors, or just proceed as quote-unquote ‘normally’ as we can,” Bachynski said. “We can’t have it all right now, given where the numbers are. … If we increase the risk with sports, we might be less able to have in-person K-5 or K-6 schools. We are less able to protect people who are working in grocery stores or warehouses.

“I know there is symbolism in sports. But if we prioritize sports, are we potentially risking other things that also have pretty high social value?”

72 comments

  1. This article brings in scientist with a perspective already opposed to playing football so it is no wonder they are opposed to the season starting. Points of view, in my opinion, that want zero cases before we have mass gathers are unrealistic as the virus will always be with us. The question is how virulent it is and how little resistance we have to the virus. .

    Like most things today, this pandemic has brought out the extreme positions that eliminate any real discussion that could bring about a consensus on how to deal with COVID19.

    1. v, as I agree wholeheartedly I wish I could have said it that well. I just don’t understand cowering from challenge. Personally it is unAmerican.

    2. Only one of the three physicians / scientists is predisposed to not supporting football in any scenario, but all three are advocating that seasons be delayed. None claimed that cases needed to be at zero before a return to the field could occur. I think it’s important that facts be fully considered, don’t you?

      1. 2-1 Dr./scientist
        3-2 P5
        SEC, ACC and B12 must be listening to different experts.
        After facts considered
        it comes down to choice. If you want to play, play.
        If you want to coach, coach. If you’re a fan and want to attend, set in the stands.

      2. This is in the article “Duszynski would, ideally, want zero cases of COVID-19 in a community before large group gatherings and contact sports are allowed”. I never claimed all wanted zero cases.

  2. Today’s society (this America) is unrealistic. Extreme positions do eliminate real discussions. However, extreme positions do open the door and opportunity for untruths and falsehoods.

  3. April 2009 to April 2010 PH1N1 Pandemic Influenza. 60.8 million cases, 274,304 hospitalized, 12,469 deaths. 8 to 12 times worse than seasonal influenza.
    87% of reported deaths, UNDER 65.
    Most people don’t even remember it.

  4. This isn’t affecting just football and other sports, but all collegiate scholarship sports. Iowa has already decided to end 5 non revenue generating scholarship sports. This is only the beginning. This ‘defensive’ position is overkill with extraneous, long term negative ramifications.

  5. It would be hard, at this point, to find any public health medical expert who doesn’t have a non-political position on this issue. The best you can do is find two opposite scientific positions, lay out their thoughts. It wouldn’t matter anyway because it wouldn’t change the predisposed positions we hold about how the season should proceed.

  6. “HEALTH EXPERTS BELIEVE IT’S TOO SOON FOR FOOTBALL”. “Health experts just worry it’s not time for tackle football. ” Who are these so called “health experts”? I didn’t know they had formed a single, unified, concensus opinion? An opinion that is not sighted anywhere else but in Jon Blau’s mind. Luckily, we have this clayervoient author to channel their combined wisdom into his artical. The world owes you a dedt of graditude, Jon Blau, for sharing your extraordinary gift. If I wasn’t so impressed with your pysic abilities, I would be wondering if you were the only supposed “health expert” used to write the article? You, something called the Infectious Diseases Society of America (whatever that is) and the combined wisdom of Muhlenberg College. This article demonstrates clearly why sports reports should stick with writing about things they actually understand.

    1. He cited (not sighted) the views of three well-credentialed medical professionals, though he never presented their views as a “single, unified consensus (not consensus) opinion“. And, while I’ve seen nothing to indicate that Blau is a psychic (not pysic), his article struck a reasoned tone, supplemented with the views of highly educated professionals. I can see why you had such a problem with it, your “debt of gratitude” notwithstanding. Next time, maybe he’ll include more pictures, just for you.

      1. This article would at least been honest had he replaced all the “health experts” with Jon Blau. You either don’t understand that point, or you hold the author to a lessor standard because you agree with his opinion. And since you want to correct my grammar, what do you think of this sentence? “While daily totals of new cases in the U.S. began to fall in April, another sharp rise began in mid-June, along with an increase in positivity rates — which means those figures weren’t attributable only to increases in testing.” This run on and on and on sentence is not only poorly written but poorly thought-out. Maybe the increase in daily cases is due to improved testing, maybe the virus has mutated into a form that is easier to detect, maybe health workers have improved testing procedures. There could be multiple reasons why the number of positive tests or “positivity” rates are increasing other than increased levels of disease. The article was written to support a viewpoint disguised as fact and used sweeping generalities in an attempt to legitimize the author’s personal opinion.

  7. Infection Disease Society of America has 11500 members and formed 57 years ago. Instrumental in encouraging development of antibiotic research when companies stopped antibiotic research for new meds due to low $$ rewards. ie; antibiotic resistance. Also Lyme disease research & long term impacts. (Per Wikipedia)

    I have contacted both this organization and the CDC in my long past working life. Both were helpful.

    Keep reporting Jon, even when the information is not acknowledged. Nice to see different viewpoints
    ….

  8. Blauspheme!…..from Blon Jauvi.

    “unified consensus (not consensus) opinion“….? Now the spell-check committee room is even confused.

    #1 anagram for Jon Blau?
    Ulna Job

    Did Barack steal Carl’s cadence? Me thinks so…

  9. I have no problem with different ideas in articles but there weren’t any from doctors that disagree with the ones he cited. There is a lot of medical disagreement within the scientific and medical community about how to deal with this virus.

    1. So every article requires contrasting points of view? As for the medical community, I think most medical professions are advocating a cautious approach. Masks and distancing are the consensus view, as is the admonition to avoid large groups and / or concentrations of people. Special care is also viewed as the rule when considering people in their 50’s and above, with urgency increasing for every 5-10 years of age. Where are you seeing “a lot” of disagreement?

  10. Research things from your normal sites and see. The media shuts out most of the disagreements from doctors and scientist that disagree. For example how did that work out for NZ that is an island with ocean that can keep people from going by the gov’t yet they got new virus cases. FB and Youtube have shut down doctors and scientist that disagree with the agenda.

    I have no problem with mask in a group but Europe says three feet to distance while our country says 6 feet. I want better protection for people that are in the danger zone but for everyone else this isn’t needed. What is allowed to be put out the medical doctors are afraid of the virus spreading to groups that aren’t in danger. Just like the B1G presidents the virus causing some to get cardiomyopathy don’t understand every virus can cause this IE Coach Randy Walker back in 2006 from a virus that destroyed his heart.

    There is so much to learn if you research outside your box to gain information.

    1. BD If you would research more you would see different opinions and not criticize posters so much. The presidents were too afraid of lawsuits to cancel the season as they don’t live in the real world or listen to the coaches and players that worked so hard to keep from getting the virus. Testing twice a week would keep infected players off the field and not be a risk. The presidents live in a bubble and don’t realize what teams were doing to keep the virus out of the team.

      1. v, again your aim is well targeted. The most loudly exclaimed phrase I’ve heard for 4 1/2 months has been “more testing”. These athletic programs are the exact model needed to build parameters, options and absolutes from. Build a path forward that can be navigated instead of always reverting to displaying a ‘stop sign’. People would then have a choice.

      2. You’ve shown yourself to be understudied on this topic, V. Do some research and leave your bias at the door an you’ll be better informed.

      3. I find this statement curious…”the presidents of universities live in a bubble and don’t realize what teams were doing to keep the virus out of the team”…… If the president of universities are living in a bubble, then how is the President of the United States living (in or out of the bubble)??

  11. Questioning whether University Presidents “live in a bubble” is humorous. If you’ve ever spent any significant time talking to or working with academics, especially those higher up in university administration, you would not question the validity of that statement. It’s not an absolute, and I’m sure you could find some university presidents that maintain an acute awareness of what life outside their Universities is like, but by and large, these are some of the most insulated people in our society. Are they hyper risk averse? Yes, IMO they are people who have been conditioned throughout their careers to be risk averse. Ask yourself, how do these people advance their careers? Well, it’s not like the real world where becoming successful requires taking some risks. It’s the exact opposite. They’re rewarded for “keeping the train rolling” with minimal disruption, so that’s what they do. While highly educated and perhaps even intelligent, I have met few academics that I would trust to operate a lemonade stand.

    1. Mirrors my experiences with the those folks to a T. If you have to interface with them for any coordination at all it’s like dragging double your weight.

  12. BD you don’t know my intelligence, I don’t brag about having a genius level IQ, or my research. You are opposed to me being a libertarian focused on individual liberties and personal responsibility. You on the other hand just want to attack posters that don’t agree with you. I will ignore your post from now on as it isn’t worth the argument. Notice I don’t have problems with H4H and others because I do allow posters to have different ideas without attacking them.

    1. I’ve never once attacked you, V. When you’ve made posts that aren’t supported by facts, I’ve called those out. If that upsets you, so be it.

        1. Your “facts” overwhelmingly tend to be opinions presented as facts. There’s a difference. Nothing personal, by the way.

          Much of what we know about Covid is knowledge gained along the way, and many are guilty of second guessing and politicizing the “other side”, whoever that maybe. What is known today is well ahead of what we knew even six months ago, but we’re still far from k owing how the disease acts and spreads and is defeated.

          For those of you old enough to remember when AIDS initially came onto the public scene, many people reacted out of rumor, innuendo and fear because reliable data was both scarce and ever changing. When a young boy who was diagnosed with HIV entered the Kokomo school system, many parents withdrew their children from classes rather than have them possibly subjected to the virus. There were concerns about touching door handles, desks, common restroom usage, cafeteria, gym and playground protocols, and bus transportation, to name a few. This poor kid was treated like a leper, all due to ignorance. And it was often cruel and remarkably personal because of what they perceived to be a threat against them and how they wanted to live.

          So, before we proclaim opinions as facts and ridicule others who express caution due to a developing situation, maybe a step back is in order.

          Thanks for the video.

        2. Maybe some of you need to talk to those who met the horror of this virus in hospitals….It’s a pandemic. This isn’t a seasonal cold. Its side effects can be devastating and its long term implications are still vastly unknown. And if a flippant attitude prevails courtesy of leadership barely acknowledging a crisis (or simply acknowledging the unknown…along with an ounce of compassion for the loss of life) going far beyond our own borders, it will return with a vengeance.

          It’s easy and lazy to be critical of protests; to deny (and, again, flippantly not acknowledge) those who sincerely attempt to protest in peace while only highlighting those with intent to destroy property/civility. But cavalier attitudes do nothing to further hope and optimism. They remain blatantly absent of the optimism that follows heartfelt concern/empathy/compassion/acknowledgment for the citizenry of the world. Such flippancy and pressures to fall into the “line of denial” is a form of revolt perpetuating the normalizing of sociopathic behavior. A nation has been left in a dark void when plans of action and compassion is needed most. To remain in power means to undermine the existence of suffering. It is far more ‘revolting’ than any ‘revolt’ because its sickness is born of voids in the heart and soul. The disregard and the lost echoes of sincere compassion is far more danger than the pandemic’s worst hour. How can leaders of a free nation be so detached from those who have lost loved ones? 170,000 deaths goes so far beyond each singular life. Millions of families have been impacted. Even if Covid-19 were to miraculously evaporate into thin air, such cold denials from cold men are the rec rooms of deceit and evil.

  13. just read Alabama has 535 NEW cases in a week AND add to those all the student suspensions being handed out across the country for off-campus partying. Is it any wonder WHY the “adults in the room” voted to cancel football..Human behavior that has been on display the entire spring and summer suggest many aare NOT going to follow recommendations . So the answer is to treat like military punishment: 1 screws up ;you all get punished called behavior modification. A practice most parents seem to have forgotten.

  14. I’m not predicting it will happen, but I would not be surprised to learn that a few Big Ten University Presidents lose their jobs (or fail to have their contracts extended) as a result of their decision to cancel fall sports. More and more information is coming out about how the decision was made (group think was overwhelming), and the picture it paints just gets uglier and uglier. Given the carnage that will result from cancelling all fall sports (especially FB), voters in some of the more “conservative” states, where the people who want “a university the football team can be proud of,” are going to demand that heads roll. Which, when you think about it, might be, in a general sense, a healthy unintended consequence of their decision.

    1. Po, I hope you are right about college presidents but it is difficult to get one with experience outside academia. They made a decision on a not well researched study and other heart specialist point it out. You would think they might rethink their positions but I wouldn’t hold my breathe. Delaying the season for a month to see what wad going on with infections would have been more sound but they went with wiping out this season.

  15. Bluntly: if President Trump wins re-election do sports sports open up and continue or does the same or similar scenario continue?

  16. If Biden happens to win (doubt it) though he seems like he would be in a category of Live Dead…would doctors and scientists come together and say things are safe now making it easy for sports and things to open up and sports to continue? If that happened…would that scenario be because of Trump and staff’s hard work that he would not get credit for?

  17. Will the coronavirus crisis suddenly be diminished after the election is decided? Most likely. But no matter who wins the election, certain media-driven narratives are simply going to disappear instantaneously. Things the masses are now being spoon fed by the leftist media in order to sway the election simply won’t matter any more. Their efforts having either failed or been successful, the media will pivot and create new narratives in support of their agenda. And problems/issues they are using to create fear right now (i,e., the COVID-19 crisis) will no longer have as much influence, so they will be diminished. They all but ignore the violent riots, looting and attacks on police taking place in cities and states run by leftist mayors and governors right now. That type of news does not enhance the image of the people they want to be in power, so it will be interesting to see how that coverage changes after the election.

    Most people have no idea just how biased the media really is and how they are being manipulated, not just by what’s being reported, but by what is NOT being reported. Trump’s opponent in this election is not Joe Biden, it’s the leftist media. Just remember, we will get the government we deserve.

    “A republic madam, if you can keep it.”

  18. The first amendment has been hi jacked by leaders, protesters and rioters. Trying and thus far have expanded its definition and or concept into violence, disturbance, intimidation, looting, riots, attacks, robbery, destruction and burning things down. It has turned into a mental illness mind set.
    Yes, reporting bias and not reporting or selective reporting leaves an uninformed society. Currently, to some it doesn’t matter and forget right vs wrong or justice or justifiable actions. No matter what it equals violence and riots. This is not freedom of speech or first amendment. They are acts of war. The irrational cannot be rationalized. America has sent peace keepers, military and even invaded other foreign countries for similar actions in their own land. I expect the same for this country to restore the first amendment of the constitution regarding towns and cities in America.
    Yes, through the years the media continues to move from topic to topic often at the negative expense of society. Media of all kinds milk glaring example after example as it has strategized with more different kinds of media and characters on media for very much personal gain. The first amendment including freedom of speech must be restored with humility and respect. Not hi jacked into something it is not.
    There are reasons why some people are not submissive to the police. Often it involves a criminal record of some sort. However, here is a solution to try. Obey, respect, and be submissive to the law and police. Things may work out better for all.

    1. The First Amendment isn’t in need of restoration. It is fully intact. Protests and riots are violations of it in any way.

          1. A violation occurs when someone is prevented from exercising their right, not when someone allegedly exercises their right while also breaking the law. You can march, shout, display signs, etc. in an exercise of your rights. If you choose to also light a police car on fire, you’ve broken the law while exercise your first amendment rights, but none of that constitutes a violation of said rights. If you assemble peaceably and are silenced / arrested / detained because someone doesn’t like your sign or your chant or your blue spiked hairdo, then your rights have been violated.

  19. Amen t. …..News bias. I have not watched any cable news station since the start of the fiasco impeachment show — and I’m not a fan of his. Local news only and BBC every now and them. Newspapers, again only local coverage. ……. Looting? i would last in law enforcement maybe one night. Looters. arson etc., extreme means reasonable to maintain order. Jail, no bond and no early out. Blocking highways during demonstrations – same as above. Than you see the Indy cops beating the stuffing out of one (appears peaceful ?) demonstrator and shoving another woman.

    First amendment . The Constitution has been massaged, interpreted and manipulated by both political parties for years – and continues to be.

    IMO obviously

  20. First Amendment including free speech comes with unspoken internal responsibility and respect. It is only as good as the Integrity that it’s participants represent.
    Laws are only as good as citizens and society make them.

  21. Po IM going to take you to task over your OVERT politicization of Covid-19. Blaming the heresy and anxiety over this virus on the media or WHICH way the political pole swings is asinine at best. I can tell you about one virus that wasnt a pandemic and Media or politicians didnt make it a “football”. Im a POLIO Survivor and the anxiety and fear that ran thru communities was MORE than people have taken this virus OR this country wouldn’t have 176,000 dead . To say the story of this virus is driven by Left-wing media or Right Wing Politicians lessens the virulence of this disease because like me..I survived Polio but continued to have problems and still do. We dont know if the Feeney young man will ever be healthy or what long term health issues he will have. We hear “recovered from” but that doesnt mean the body CURED anything. I can remember public places being closed when polio outbreak occurred ,theatres , public swimming pools, schools, churches. military came in to enforce quarantine. Polio was treated serious..the public takes Covid-19 as if its a game of Tag-your It.

    1. TJ, you have gone through terrible illness and I am thankful I was just past the polio so kids didn’t go through what you did and later in life. The problem today is unlike with polio which people were focused on children that were the most in danger without closing down society. This virus doesn’t effect everybody with the same chances of having serious problems but we have shut down a lot of our society like everyone is in same danger.

  22. Geez TJ. My Mother took me and some cousins to a small stream for a picnic, south of Martinsville back in the early 1950s. All 4 of us kids were probably 4-5-6 yrs old. Few weeks later two of my cousins were diagnosed with Polio. Mom felt the guilt for the rest of her days. Like you said, long-term effects. Worked at an Indy hospital 50 yrs ago and found an ‘iron-lung” machine in storage. Nobody on staff had seen one in use. Hope you were never acquainted with one, but at the time they saved many lives. Sadly another disease that mimics polio is circulating affecting kids.

  23. V13 your observation abut focus is a good point but may I remind you that the founder of the “March of Dimes” was FDR after he contracted Polio as President. Ron -Im truly sorry to hear that story about your Mom..it upset me to know she felt that guilt for rest of her life . I can only tell you that when I read your missive about your Mom ..it broke my heart because things happen..and she couldnt have known the jeopardy they were all in..she could have contracted Polio as well. BTW ; I missed the vaccine by 2 mos. they vaccinated kids at start of school in 1955 and I got polio at end of June 1955.

  24. TJ, you can’t actually believe that politicians are not trying to create and spread fear about COVID-19 or that they’re not trying exploit the pandemic for political gain? The slogan, “never let a crisis go to waste” has been on full display all across the country for months. Did you study the contents of the “relief” legislation proposed by Congressional democrats? They were outrageous, obscene and irresponsible in the extreme.

    When the Governor of Michigan bans being on a boat, on a lake by yourself, but allows massive protests, you have to wonder about her motives, her intelligence, or both. I could go on with dozens of additional examples of how politicians have tried to create fear, make people miserable and exploit this pandemic for their political gains.

    Now I’m going to try to avoid making any more comments involving politics on this site. Sorry for violating my own policy.

    1. So right Po. What a colossal cluster she has made of Meatchicken. My son, daughter-in-law and 2 young grandkids live up north. My son is not near the conservative I am. My daughter-in-law is a moderate Democrat. Neither have anything positive about the political animal abusing power in Lansing. Their neighbors are even more negative about her actions. She is, in modern speak, not trending well with her constituents and there are TRUMP signs everywhere. My Bride and I just got back Tuesday evening after spending 5 days visiting them. The political atmosphere in the state was eye opening.

  25. If it knocks on your doorstep, you will not be so cold-hearted.

    We covered the boat on Lake Michigan thing…It was a temporary ban (as Indiana and many other states employed to contain spread) because many residents of the region have secondary homes/condos/cottages making it difficult to ascertain a primary residence. If they can’t use the boat, they’re probably not going to travel across state lines. The Michigan governor did nothing different than many travel bans…other than realizing a ‘Great Lake’ with vast recreational opportunities is unique and can be traveled upon (water access across state lines) and/or be a primary reason to disobey travel restrictions and well-intentioned means to curtail spread/prevent spikes.

    There is no political gain in nearly 200,000 dead Americans….What number would you like? Would 100,000 deaths be low enough to thwart a political gain and present some compassion for those who have died?

  26. What strange times we live in…In other time in history if 170000 Americans citizens had die, the American people would be in an uproar…the American people would have banned together to fight this disease. Today the American people are in total isolation/independent of each other and every other nation…we seem to only care about ourselves “American (each individual for himself) First” and only….where is the empathy and support for your fellow individual…It is only the “FLU”that many people die from the flu each year. What is the acceptable number of people that have to die before we take this pandemic serious??

  27. The Spanish Flu of 1917-1919 https://www.history.com/news/spanish-flu-second-wave-resurgence
    The 195,000 dying in the USA in just the month of October needs to be put in perspective because our population was much smaller. Today that would be over 500k dying in one month. This COVID 19 is nothing to ignore but our perspective is skewed because so many have come to believe life is safe when it never is safe. The Spanish Flu struck all ages but hit the young adults particularly hard. People went to be feeling well and died during their sleep. When we investigate pandemics from the past this virus is way down the list but too many treat it like it is the black death.

    What do you suggest people due to take this seriously? Shutting down society isn’t going to work as it causes more deaths and problems than it saves.

    1. This should read “people went to bed feeling well and died during their sleep from the flu.” I would also point out the Spanish Flu killed the young which killed enough doctors and nurses to create a shortage in people to treat the patients in the hospitals.

    2. Keep in mind just how much healthcare has advanced since the Spanish Flu, V13. Keep in mind just how much our understanding and study of viruses has advanced. Keep in mind/perspective just how much faster communication, messaging and commerce moves and how the distribution of masks and supportive healthcare materials can get to the front lines compared to that time (at least when it works properly and is a collective movement by leaders who take it seriously). Without such advances of communication, commerce and healthcare at our disposal today, Covid-19 may have taken 25% of the population in 1919.
      All of those advances and understanding (commerce, medical, science) and you can have a straight face when comparing today to 1917-1919?

      Our ability to “seriously” combat viruses in 2020 should be a bit more advanced than a day when we were hopping into this. You can send a package from Chicago to Singapore overnight FedEx, but we can’t deliver a mask to front line healthcare workers? It’s one thing to be caught with your pants down. It’s another thing to just leave them at your ankles in oblivious defiance.

      1. H4H, I am aware of all the reasons that we can do better with pandemics now but was talking about how different our perspectives are today on pandemics. I see society being much more risk adverse today and I fear we have gone too far thinking bad things should never happen.

        You bring up the shortage of mask but I point out something we are not in short supply – toilet paper – but you were hard pressed to find rolls to purchase after the panic started. The same thing happened with supplies of PPE as people across the country got theirs early wiping out supplies when needed a short time earlier. During panics supplies are disrupted and it takes time for them to catch up especially when people continue to panic buy despite evidence to the contrary that they shouldn’t. Mask were in short supply after the ebola and N1H1 episodes as the gov’t supplies weren’t refilled. This is a failure of Obama and the Trump administration that I would put on the bureaucrats instead of the Presidents.

  28. IU79- Eroding of compassion and empathy at every level. And the doctors and nurses who fought this virus delegitimatized and devalued because it’s more important to sell “normalcy” before an election than to possess one normal ounce of human acknowledgment and gratitude for those who gave their lives and put their lives at risk to make a difference for all of us.
    What good is any democracy if we have lost the ability to care and have compassion for the bravest and most giving of our neighbors? When we trivialize a virus that has taken nearly 200,000 lives in our country alone, we trample on far more than the dead. We trample on those who fought the war in the front lines of senior centers, hospitals, ICUs .

    There is no strength in ignoring loss. Lady Liberty should stand for decency and heartfelt concern for the citizenry she stands before. The Constitution and the trust vested in those we elect our hollow representations if we have lost our way in values and empathy for those who have found undue hardship whether it be health, economic vitality or injustices because of unequal treatment under the law. Lady Liberty is disfigured. She has been groped and violated by the hands of disingenuous leaders only motivated by power and greed. She stands for nothing because she has been abused by heartless pursuits and “men” who insult the definition of actually being given such a classification.
    I don’t even believe we are divided nation. What does Lady Liberty stand for if not first and foremost a heart for the citizenry? This is where kings were not supposed to hide suffering, cruelty and those never given a shot in life behind the tapestries of castles. This is where there was supposed be chances for love and compassion for all. I believe it may be too late to reclaim anything meaningful in her motherly toil she quietly stood to represent.

  29. IU79, I don’t know anyone who is not taking the pandemic seriously. Even if they’re not worried about dying from COVID, they don’t want to get sick or spread it to others. But there is a big difference between taking the virus seriously and being so terrified that you relinquish all your freedom and stop living your life. What amazes me are all those elected officials who will try to prevent people from exorcizing their freedom while allowing thousands to protest/riot in the streets. Tacit approval is still approval, and if you’re watching these protests, you see hundreds/thousands of people, packed in close, many without masks, screaming at the top of their lungs into the faces of others, and no attempt is made to put a stop to it. They’ll say, “well people have the right to protest.” That’s true, but they also have the right to worship as they choose. But a lot of Governors have forced churches to close while cheering on and participating in street demonstrations. Someone explain how such decisions prevent the spread of the virus. Selective enforcement of public safety is simply political opportunism by grossly cynical and incompetent elected officials.

    And by the way, during the outbreak of the Spanish Flu in the U.S., the elected officials did not stop Major League Baseball games from being played across the country or try to prevent people from attending them. The thought at the time was, with American men dying in WWI and the pandemic raging across the world, Americans needed something a positive distraction.

  30. Depending on how you frame the first amendment: The true framing includes freedom of speech and PEACEFUL ASSEMBLY. It does not include yelling including threatening in one’s face/personal space close enough to land spit on a person, violence, killing and destruction…basically what is going on. I do think this has had an untold impact whether or not to continue fall sports and more so now.

    1. Nothing you’ve mentioned and nothing that’s occurred has resulted in anyone’s First Amendment rights being violated, though.

  31. Periodically I back off from certain posting boards to reevaluate whether or not the board is worth my time and effort. Usually the criteria is, can we have a reasonable dialogue with respect towards the varying positions on a given issue. Until the hyper-partisan national politics entered our haven away from such in our little world of IU sports, I enjoyed our bantering over all things IU sports. Now that our primary topics of discussion has been removed from us by these same politics, all that is left to us is to bring these same hyper-partisan national politics to our posting board.

    The reason I have increasingly removed myself from this, and other posting boards, is when one side or the other refuses to acknowledge there may be validity to positions which conflict with their own. When this happens there remains little reason for continued involvement. Sports were supposed to bring us together, not divide us. Yet, this is precisely what is occurring due to the absence of sporting activities and the intrusion of hyper-partisan politics into sports. This time of the year we are supposed to be arguing over the relevance of, or lack thereof, of IUFB, instead we’ve being relegated to making partisan points and counterpoints about national politics.

    I could very easily point out the fallacies of certain points made by virtually every poster over the last several days, and I’m sure many think they could do the same with me. I don’t have a problem with that. However, while everyone is worried about the politics, the virus, the riots, and everything else going on this year, I worried about something much greater. Whether anyone realizes it or not, when the civil words stop then the uncivil words begin. When the uncivil words stop, something else very dangerous begins.

    In the last 160 years the political climate has never been closer to 1861 than it is now. Anyone who thinks an ACW2 will be anything like the first one, really doesn’t doesn’t understand much. I hope this is a very sobering thought for our little posting community. I’m sure this will result in the usual finger pointing one way or another, but if we don’t ALL back away from the abyss as a nation, the results will be what they will be.

    1. Horrors of the streets are brought to our eyes in a matter of minutes via camera phones. Our emotions are fed and accelerated before we can truly process what we see.
      We compare many past crises without giving much consideration to the vastly different technological world; the saturation to our eyes and ears of every singular event bombarding our brains and tempting all into polar opposite reactions. These forums act in such an environment the same. Teenagers verbally execute each other daily in a desire to find a lowest common denominator to elevate or ruin someone via the technology in their hands. The “adults” have merely followed suit.

      There are undoubtedly horrific injustices on the streets….but those gadgets in the hands expose the ugly underbelly of all things. It’s the ugly underbelly we choose to always see. We should see the injustices and we should demand change allowing all to have peace of mind, equality and the same justice provided by liberty. All of us have good in our heart. But our eyes are being poisoned with the rapid fire of images . Our responses to evils are instantaneous. We judge fast and loose in an attempt to keep up with the speed of the information.

      I’m simply not sure if we’ve garnered the ability to reason and pace ourselves to the bombardment of minute by minute atrocities. The good in our hearts isn’t newsworthy. The decent man/woman can’t own this stage. We seek the horror with those tools in our hands. And when we seek the horror, do we begin to create the horror? There’s horror in that 17-year-old boy carrying an assault weapon with such casual glaze upon his eyes. Where is the father? Where is the mother? Where is the guidance to not get pulled into the spiraling darkness poisoning to think all of the world can be captured in the instantaneous turnaround time of a social media posting?
      Find the good in your neighbor rather than the threat in his differences. The speed of hatred traveled on a wireless signal attached to a camera lens is not the core of every man. You are dealing with glimpses because you dine on mass consumption. Give each other a chance.

  32. I too am concern about people that are ready or now taking up arms at protest. If gov’t doesn’t enforce peace, but how far can they go before tyranny happens, then if wanton destruction and mayhem continues people will start to defend themselves. My concern is that combat is terrible as it harms people and destroys things. It will cause long term mental problems that many don’t consider the ramification of fighting between two sides.

    Our country needs to get back to conversations not confrontation otherwise strength will determine who wins with one side losing.

  33. Flashback to late 60s/70. Black Panthers, Weathermen terrorist group, domestic bombing Watts, racial unrest, cities burning, aircraft hijacking, Japanese Red Army and assassinations. Seems totally different now – more personal? Don’t have to wait until the evening news to find out what happen that day. Now it’s 24 hour multi channel updates (can’t really call any of them ‘news stations). Or maybe its just that I’m old and tired of the BS.

    Uhhh – Jeremy still around?

  34. All you need to do is examine where the violent riots have taken place and where the increasing violence has been tolerated/ignored, in some cases for months. If people want to put a stop to it, all they need to do is replace the elected officials who have allowed it to go on without enforcing the law.

    Anyone old enough to remember the riots that took place in Chicago during the 1968 Democratic Convention? Anyone remember how Mayor Dailey responded to that mob? He sent the Chicago PD out in force and ordered them to put it down. And that’s exactly what the Chicago PD did. You’ll continue to get what you tolerate.

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