It’s Tuesday morning as I write this, and still the Big Ten hasn’t come to a decision as to whether the conference’s fall football season will be revived. We can’t know what thoughts are bouncing around the heads of the 14 Big Ten presidents and chancellors, nor the particulars of what they discussed in Sunday’s meeting.
But we can assume the presidents discussed the latest developments on the links between COVID-19 and myocarditis in college athletes. And we can also assume it was good news for everyone who’d like to see the conference play football again in 2020.
We can assume that because the co-author of the study that helped tip the scales against playing college football just one month ago is now saying that same study should serve is evidence for resuming college athletics.
Let’s back up a bit.
An Ohio State study this spring found that four of 26 athletes known to have contracted COVID-19 also experienced myocarditis. The New York Times called that number “alarmingly high.”
However, Dr. Greg Daniels, one of the co-authors of that study and who was quoted in that Times story, told the Columbus Dispatch that he came to the opposite conclusion as the Times.
″‘My gosh, they found myocarditis, there’s no way we can play,’ ” Daniels said of the general reaction. “They’re putting it out there saying it’s not safe to play. They’re not reading the article. Or if they’re reading it, they’re just putting their own spin on it, like, ‘It’s not safe.’
“It’s actually the opposite. We’re saying we actually found this, but we know a path now to say it’s safe to go back as opposed to having this uncomfortable feeling of not knowing anything” about the actual risk.
Daniels did not speak to the Big Ten presidents, but one of his co-authors, Dr. James Borchers, did.
Daniels’ conclusions appear to be the consensus of the medical community, that myocarditis should not be the sole reason a college conference does not compete. (And, to be sure, the Big Ten did not say it was the sole reason it postponed football on Aug. 11, though the unknowns around the issue were a major reason.)
“I think we have a safe way to return to play,” Daniels told the Dispatch. “I hope that we will find a way to do so.”