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Shut it Down

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I don’t give a damn about a scrimmage right now

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: APR 14 Clemson Spring Game Photo by John Byrum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

After hammering into students’ heads “no changes were planned” due to the covid-19 outbreak, Clemson University just announced a shift to online classes the week of March 23rd. Administrations around the country are being forced to make quick decisions, the possibility of the infection spreading due to spring break has people justifiably concerned. Harvard dumped students onto the street at short notice. The Ivy Leagues suspended athletic competitions, including practices, for the spring. After last night the NBA has shut down indefinitely. Things are changing rapidly and this article will likely be out of date by the time it posts.

The NBA made the correct choice. In the days and years to come we’re going to laugh at Rudy Gobert a lot, and I encourage that, but this could have happened to any player on the floor. If not for the intervention of Thunders medical staffer Donnie Strack, literally running to the court as the refs prepared to begin the game, things could have gotten significantly worse. Take this outlook from Dr. Andrew Morris, a professor of infectious diseases at Sinai Health and University Health Network,

“He paints a scenario where it would only take a small number of unknowingly infected fans to spread the virus to hundreds more as they share handrails, sit at close quarters and use the same ketchup dispensers. If even a fraction of them end up gravely ill the ripple effects could be calamitous: “Now you need an entire hospital’s full ICU [Intensive Care Unit] to take care of these patients,” he said. “Repeat for several games each night, night after night. Have I scared you? Good. That’s what’s happening.”

Cancelling games did not come out of the blue, other leagues have taken the lead at home and abroad. The ACC just cancelled the remainder of its tournament. This is much bigger than sports. Washington, the hardest hit state so far, is hoping to avoid becoming another Italy. Italy is reporting hundreds of deaths per day. People are dying, experts are recommending social distancing, and sports are not immune.

In this context it is absurd that Clemson has not announced plans to cancel the spring game. Every event I’ve talked about so far has a dramatically lower attendance than Clemson’s spring game, and every event I’ve talked about so far is an actual competition. The spring game is, generously speaking, an exhibition. It is inexcusable that the administration, as of this writing, appears willing to put people in jeopardy for this. While Clemson students appear unlikely to be at fatal risk from the virus, and no cases have been reported on campus, older fans and students’ relatives could be put in jeopardy. Michigan and Ohio State have already announced that they will not have their spring games, as well as shutting down recruiting, due to the coronavirus. Do you really want to give Michigan a high horse from which they will peer down upon us? Do you really want to live in a world where we have to admit Clemson was less responsible than Ohio State?