Andy Hodges

Do players have voice in determining if they are willing to accept risk playing?

“The science” numbers show healthy young people almost zero risk on covid-19 and you wonder if players have vote on playing at Arkansas and other colleges.

Apparently Mike Irwin of Pig Trail Nation looks at the same numbers from the Center for Disease Control and other places that I keep seeing every day.

“I’ve taken a position on this … I believe they should play,” Irwin on Monday afternoon told Derek Ruscin and Zach Arns (Ruscin & Zach) on EsPN Arkansas. “You get shamed by people when you say that but there are people that haven’t read nearly as much about this, for instance as I have.”

It’s out there and the number everyone (including Gov. Asa Hutchinson) keeps looking at is the overall number of positive cases. That’s going to continue to go up.

“Anytime I see any kind of article written on covid-19 I read about it,” Irwin said. “I’ve been doing that for four months. I know, for instance, if you are a healthy 25-and-under individual with no pre-existing conditions your chances of getting sick from covid are virtually zero.”

That’s not death, by the way. Just getting sick. The only number that I can guarantee you we WOULD know in all of college athletics would be if any athlete died or even been in serious condition at a hospital.

You can bet your last nickel we would have heard about it. While positive results have been either not disclosed at places like Arkansas, others have either put on social media they were positive or someone close to the players have disclosed it.

“As the teams came together and started their strength and conditioning workouts, some of these schools have an uptick in these guys testing positive,” Irwin said. “I’m not aware of anybody that went to the hospital. Sam Pittman said a couple of weeks ago the guys that have tested positive have been quarantined for 10 days, then they’re back.”

The coaches are a totally separate issue. They may have to re-adjust their style and avoid getting close to players and, if they are potentially at risk, completely change the way they do things, wear a mask and stand a few yards away from players.

“All of these workouts are outdoors anyway, or at least most of them,” Irwin said. “From the CDC, most infections occur indoors. Most of the people getting this, from what I read, are folks going to bars and nightclubs.

“That’s where you sit around and talk to somebody for 20 minutes in an indoor setting and if you’re not wearing a mask that’s how you get it. There are other ways to get it but that’s how a lot of this is happening.”

These kids can get this information, too. They know the numbers and that’s why they’re maybe a little less cautious than some people like.

“I don’t think they’re as goofy as some people suggest,” Irwin said. “They’ve read this information, too, and they know just getting it doesn’t mean anything to that age group.”

Jason Carroll, the chief cook and bottle-washer at Pig Trail Nation has raised the question on social media wondering if anybody is asking the players.

In a day and age where college athletes want more of a say in what goes on, it’s an interesting question.

“Maybe they are behind the scenes,” Irwin said. “But I don’t know. I think their feelings ought to at least be a factor. It might not be a final decision but I hope these AD’s, college presidents, chancellors and everybody involved at least talk to the athletes and ask them what they think.”

For high school athletes, the final decision should be with the parents. Most are probably aware the odds of kids in that age group dying or getting seriously sick are almost zero. If they have a family member at-risk, that’s a decision only they are qualified to answer.

At the collegiate level, the players are over 18 years of age and the final choice, ultimately, should be up to them. They are the ones at risk.

Based on “the science” everybody likes to quote, the overwhelming majority of everybody involved is not in a high-risk category. That includes coaches and officials, who are all grown-ups and should be capable of judging their level of risk.

Let’s be honest, I don’t know a lot of officials and very few coaches that would come close to falling into the at-risk category. Yes, there will be exceptions but it will be very rare.

In Arkansas, based on “the science,” if you test positive at any age in any condition, the odds of living are 98.9% as of the numbers released Monday afternoon.

Before you start, I know five people (including family and one-life long friend) that have died from covid-19. Yes, it can be a serious illness but is overwhelmingly not, based on the numbers.

One long-time friend was on a ventilator for 21 days, had less than a 5% chance of living (the doctors wanted to pull the plug but the family refused to give up hope) and was on vacation in Arkansas a few weeks ago. He is progressing well through re-hab. Over 100 people I know have tested positive and the over-whelming majority had flu worse than covid-19.

Death is tragic and I have never wished even enemies to get a cold, much less something like this virus. But it’s out there and provably not going away.

The survivability odds of healthy under-25-year-olds is somewhere over 99.99% in Arkansas. They face more risk driving to practice than dying from covid-19.

A vaccine likely isn’t going to be the preventative people hope. “The science” and the medical experts are saying the most successful in history are only 60% effective and the initial one could be as low as 35% effective.

For players below the collegiate level that’s a decision their parents will make as to what risks are acceptable for their situation. I can’t know or care more for their family than they do, but the numbers say the players won’t die or even get seriously sick.

At the collegiate level, it’s a choice that ultimately should have input from the players and we have no idea if that’s something anybody is considering. They are either adults or they aren’t.

They probably know the numbers and the risk.

And should have a voice.

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