On Thursday, the American Athletic Conference announced their COVID-19 testing standards as we approach the 2020 season.
Statement from Commissioner Mike Aresco on the safe return to competition. pic.twitter.com/OO94QimKJE— The American (@American_Conf) July 16, 2020
The first takeaway is that players will be tested before every game. That was expected. More interesting than that, the AAC will do its testing 72 hours before the game. This means that players from every team will need to quarantine for three days prior to every game.
While necessary to have a somewhat functional season, it doesn’t seem realistic.
These are college students, and the conference will be asking for them to spend half of their week alone. That’s no dining halls. That’s no friends over to play video games and relax. That’s no going out to parties.
Enforcing this for 11 teams with 85 scholarship players is not realistic. However, you need it to be followed if the 2020 season is to happen. Otherwise, there will be too many cases of games being cancelled due to outbreaks for the AAC to even pretend to hold a season.
Obviously, everyone would prefer if tests could be administered an hour or two before teams travel. This would make isolation less of an issue. However, that quick of a turnaround on test results is not yet realistic.
It might seem like a pipe dream to play football in the fall, but these are the steps necessary to do so. Furthermore, it’s the G5 conferences which will need to prove they can test at a high enough level that the season won’t be shutdown due to their lack of resources. This is a step towards that.
We all know that the G5 conferences need this season from a financial standpoint. That’s true even for the AAC, who makes by far the most revenue on the whole of all the G5 programs.
The statement, which comes from AAC commissioner Mike Aresco, leaves room for this plan to change. It also briefly speaks about finalizing a plan to test for Olympic sports. This means that the AAC plans to play its non-revenue sports this fall and not just football, which makes all the money. Maybe this is optimism, and maybe it’s just to make it seem like they’re not only interested in making money off the work of student-athletes, but it’s nice that the conference hasn’t given up on Olympic sports.