Doctors concerned about contact sports as Power 5 conferences discuss football season

WATCH: Doctors concerned about contact sports as Power 5 conferences discuss football season

MID-SOUTH — College football, for a lot of folks it can be a way of life.

The Big Ten and PAC-12 conferences are expected to cancel their college football seasons because of the pandemic Tuesday.

That could cause a ripple effect, with other conferences including the SEC which includes Ole Miss and the AAC which includes the University of Memphis.

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Infectious disease specialist Dr. Steve Threlkeld said colleges can learn from professionals sports and how they’re adapting to COVID-19 like the success of the NBA Bubble.

But they caution colleges and high schools won’t be able to isolate student-athletes in the same way.

“Think of the vapor you see on the winter games that people are breathing out, all of those are potential particles that can get to the next guy so those are potential problems exactly how much of a problem? Nobody knows. These are all conjectures and relative risks and benefits questions,” said Threlkeld, who works at Baptist Memorial Hospital.

But that’s not stopping student-athletes who want to play this season. Memphis Tigers quarterback Brady White is one of the many college football players supporting the #WeWantToPlay movement.

Players are tweeting out a list of specific proposals including giving players the opportunity to opt-out or play, guaranteeing a player’s eligibility if they choose to opt-out and developing universal health and safety procedures.

But Threlkeld said the problem isn’t limited to the field.

“They’re around their families, they’ll get it, they’ll be in tight circumstances either in practices, meetings or games and can spread it to one another and then go back and spread it out further that is the problem – that would be a slightly concentrated version of what’s going on in the community at large,” said Threlkeld.

He added he’s less worried about crowds at football games. Threlkeld said if fans all wear masks and they’re spaced 12 feet for outdoor stadiums and 18 feet for indoor stadiums than he feels confident they could control any potential spread.

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