The ongoing inability of many American states to get the coronavirus under control and to keep it under control has raised real concerns about the ability of NFL and college football programs to keep the virus out of facilities and away from practice fields and game situations. Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh has a different view on the situation.
“COVID is part of our society,” Harbaugh told reporters on Wednesday via Orion Sang of the Detroit Free Press. “It wasn’t caused by football or caused by sports. There’s no expert view right now that I’m aware of that sports is going to make that worse. It’s part of our society, we’re going to have to deal with it.”
Harbaugh acknowledged the the question of whether Michigan plays football in 2020 would be a “different conversation if there’s no students on campus.” But he believes that students will be safe on campus. He also acknowledges that, if it becomes clear that football can’t be played, “then everybody would be reasonable and know that was the right thing to do.”
Still, Harbaugh wants to play. His players want to play. “They’ve trained their whole lives for the opportunity to play their sport,” he said. “Put the question to them, which I have, they would rather play than not play. And they would rather play in front of no fans than to not play.”
He applauded his players for behaving properly, wearing masks in public, socially distancing, cooking their own food, etc. “Everything they’re doing, they’ve been a really great example and a force for good,” Harbaugh said.
Player behavior away from the team facility continues to be a critical factor in the ability of football to succeed. Guys need to go straight home and stay home in order to ensure that they aren’t bringing the virus to teammates, coaches, other members of the football organization, or opponents. The more committed players are to doing what needs to be done both while at the facility and while away from it, the more likely it will be that their teams will succeed.