The NCAA’s chief medical officer, Dr. Brian Hainline, made an appearance on CNN over the weekend, describing his outlook for the likelihood of fall sports being played this season amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Right now, if testing in the U.S. stays the way it is, there’s no way we can go forward with sports," Hainline said.
According to Yahoo Sports, the country is still limited in how many COVID-19 tests are available, but also slow in how quickly those tests are processed, with results not being available for days or weeks. That kind of logjam makes it difficult to track any potential outbreak, which in turn could make student-athletes vulnerable.
Hainline’s comments on television reiterated skepticism he expressed earlier in the week about fall sports being played. On Thursday, Hainline told the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) that the lack of a national approach to testing and contract tracing has "made it very challenging to make decisions as we approach fall sport."
"When we started talking about return to sport in April, we were envisioning that there would be a continued downward trajectory of COVID-19 new infections and deaths -- that there would be a national surveillance system, national testing and national contact tracing -- that would allow us to really navigate this pandemic into re-socializing both in sport and in the rest of society," Hainline said, according to CNN. "And that hasn't happened."
So far, the Pac-12 and Big Ten have been the largest collegiate conferences to cancel fall sports. The NCAA itself has called off fall championships.
Meanwhile, as students prepare to return to college campuses, how and whether colleges are able to control student behavior in terms of best practices for managing the pandemic remains to be seen.