Michigan’s plight shows how schools have failed COVID response

While much of America has continued to take steps to curb the spread of COVID-19, universities have continued to play football, even as the virus continues to spread. The inconsistency is staggering, a columnist says.

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December 1, 2020 - 9:58 AM

Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh high-fives defensive players as they forced Penn State into a fourth down Saturday. Photo by Junfu Han / Detroit Free Press / TNS

When the news broke Monday morning that the University of Michigan football team planned to pause all of its “in-person activity” due to “presumptive” positive tests for coronavirus, the joke went around Twitter that denying Ohio State a sixth game was the best way for the Wolverines to deny the Buckeyes their shot at the national championship. Far better likelihood of success for Michigan to surrender to the virus than actually, you know, playing its mortal enemy.

Funny. Except we’re talking here about young student-athletes and a virus with potential long-term effects about which we know very little.

There is the way America is dealing with COVID-19: masks, lockdowns, limited attendance at weddings and funerals, canceled holiday plans, shuttered high schools, locked-down dorms, bankrupt restaurants, dark theaters. And then there is the way American universities are dealing with COVID-19 in the realm of college football: play on and make things worse.

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