Hefty preparations needed to play football this fall

Tulane football
Photo credit Tim Heitman - USA TODAY Sports

If football is deemed viable in the fall, both at the college and pro level, there's going to be a lot of behind-the-scenes work that makes it possible to play amid an ongoing pandemic.

As far as college is concerned, the American Athletic Conference has tabbed Dr. Greg Stewart of Tulane to chair its medical advisory group.

"Obviously heath and safety of student-athletes and everyone is paramount," Stewart said. "But once you kind of get past that, the biggest fear is that you start a season that you have to stop because we didn't manage it right to begin with."

He said that while pro leagues can isolate their players in one centralized location, that won't necessarily work in the NCAA.

"At the college level, they're still gonna have to go to class," Stewart said. "And... if students can't come back onto campus, do you allow the student-athletes on campus."

Stewart said the discussion is whether they can test players twice a week all season, on Mondays and Thursdays, to help determine which players are healthy enough to participate in each Saturday's game.

"We still don't know all the answers," Stewart said. "And as you know, what we see today in the testing or the vaccine or the antibodies is going to be different at the end of August. So we're making plans today knowing that everything will change in a month or two."

He also discussed how detailed teams will have to be to ensure the season isn't halted because of a rash of positive tests, emphasizing social distancing in team meetings and practice among position groups to ensure there's enough players available at each position in an infection does make some players unavailable.

You can hear Stewart's full interview with Bobby Hebert and Kristian Garic by clicking the podcast link.