With America’s college football season hanging by a thread, images of students gathering in lines with no social-distancing and a lack of masks have not gone down well.
For weeks, college football has found itself in a precarious position.
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The coronavirus pandemic has already resulted in season cancellations or postponements of the Big Ten, Pac-12, MAC and Mountain West as well as every NCAA fall championship.
The SEC, Big 12 and ACC are still standing, but will likely need the COVID-19 outlook to improve before they begin their seasons.
What they certainly don’t need is a bunch of their students spending time in close quarters without wearing masks.
Alabama athletic director Greg Byrne saw exactly that on Sunday and tweeted out a picture of the scene.
“Who wants college sports this fall?? Obviously not these people!!” he wrote.
“We’ve got to do better than this for each other and our campus community. Please wear your masks!”
Who wants college sports this fall?? 🏈⚽️🏐🏃🏼♀️🏃🏿
Obviously not these people!! 🤦🏼♂️
We’ve got to do better than this for each other and our campus community. Please wear your masks!😷 pic.twitter.com/OAFocYZwin
— Greg Byrne (@Greg_Byrne) August 16, 2020
Alabama offensive lineman Chris Owens shared a similar message.
“How about we social distance and have more than a literal handful of people wear a mask?” he wrote alongside a similar photo.
“Is that too much to ask Tuscaloosa?”
How about we social distance and have more than a literal handful of people wear a mask? Is that too much to ask Tuscaloosa? pic.twitter.com/gZ4MbbmBZn
— Chris Owens (@BGChrisOwens) August 16, 2020
Alabama is in the midst of students returning to campus for the semester.
The NCAA has made it clear for months that schools need students on campus if they also want sports on campus.
Pre-season camps kick off amid uncertainty
Southeastern Conference teams opened pre-season camp on Monday, with the precarious status of the season largely overshadowing even the annual ambitions of Alabama and Georgia.
Questions like how will LSU fare without quarterback Joe Burrow took a backseat to uncertainty.
Quarterback battles seem fairly inconsequential with COVID-19 threatening the season - and teams' depth charts.
“The teams that handle this the best and the players that are the safest, those teams are going to win a lot of games,” first-year Mississippi coach Lane Kiffin said.
The SEC, winner of 10 football national championships since 2006, is just hoping to have a season and play out the league-only schedule starting September 26.
It’s an open question of how a national champion will even be crowned, with the PAC-12 and Big Ten opting not to play this fall.
Masks and social-distancing are hot topics even with LSU trying to repeat as national champions without its Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback, and Alabama aiming for another national championship run after failing to make the playoffs last season.
Safety protocols have been the norm around football buildings, with frequent testing and temperature checks and a largely bubble-like existence.
Kiffin addressed the lack of precautions among some people and predicted the number of students testing positive won’t be a low one.
“If people think people are doing this well, open your eyes,” he said.
“Just drive around. This ain’t kids. Adults don’t do it. Just drive through downtown and look around or look at pictures on the Internet of other places.
“This is not taken very serious by a lot of people and especially by young people who are back at college that have been sitting at their house with their parents for however many months.”
With Associated Press and Yahoo Sports US