Counting on Sports in the Spring Could be Dangerous to the Bottom Line of College Athletic Departments

Counting on Sports in the Spring Could be Dangerous to the Bottom Line of College Athletic Departments

Many athletic department officials believe what they are hearing through the media from pharmaceutical companies hyping their stock and the Administration praying for a miracle.

A vaccine is coming or so the theory goes. At the very least, schools can stage athletics in the spring. Or can they?

There are really two parts to the question. First, when will a vaccine be ready? Second, when can it be distributed? And while a vaccine may be ready in the winter. The second question is much more difficult to answer, especially given the need to protect tens of millions of at-risk people, such as health care workers, the elderly and those with co-morbidities. College students are destined to fall pretty far down that list.

Jesse Goodman – the former chief scientist at the Food and Drug Administration –  told the Atlantic ( last week that ““Even when a vaccine is introduced, I think we will have several months of significant infection or at least risk of infection to look forward to.”

College Students Will Not Be Vaccinated Until Late Spring, at the Earliest

The problem lies in the logistics of implementing a vaccination program. Typically, an army of people should be trained to administer the vaccine, which is no small feat. In addition, some vaccines “require two doses; the first primes the immune system, allowing the second to induce a stronger immune response,” according to the Atlantic. Then, there are also challenges with regard to the storage of the vaccine.

As highlighted above, delineating who initially gets the vaccine is a loaded proposition. Emily Brunson, an anthropologist at Texas State University who studies vaccines noted that “there are many ways that things can be misinterpreted.” The magazine went on to add that “during an initial shortage, these decisions can feel unfair — especially given tensions seeded earlier in the pandemic when the rich and the famous were getting COVID-19 tests while ordinary people were being turned away at clinics.”

Should college athletes, who are increasingly being treated like professional athletes, move to the front of the line? It is unlikely.

“For all the uncertainties that remain ahead for a COVID-19 vaccine, several experts were willing to make one prediction,” continued the magazine. “’I think the question that is easy to answer is, Is this virus going to go away? And the answer to that is, No, said Ruth Karron, the director of the Center for Immunization Research at Johns Hopkins University. The virus is already too widespread. A vaccine could still mitigate severe cases; it could make COVID-19 easier to live with. (But) the virus is likely here to stay.”