Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh supports idea of college football games without fans in attendance
Harbaugh questioned the practicality of testing thousands of fans for the purpose of attending a football game
While it would appear -- for now -- that a college football season will happen in 2020, it's completely undetermined what that season will look like. One of the myriad options is for teams to play games without fans in the stands, and you can count Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh as one of the supporters of that idea if it comes to fruition.
Appearing on ESPN's "Get Up" on Wednesday, Harbaugh mentioned he felt more comfortable with the logistics of testing players, coaches and various staff in order to play football. When it comes to testing fans, however, the numbers are far more difficult; Michigan, for example, plays in the Big House, which hosts more than 100,000 people.
"You could definitely test both teams, you could test the officials and everybody, but can you test 100,000 fans coming into a stadium? Probably not. Without a vaccine, you probably couldn't do that," Harbaugh said. "To answer your question, heck yeah I'd be comfortable coaching a game without any fans. If the choice were play in front of no fans or not play, then I would choose to play in front of no fans ... and darn near every guy I've talked to on our team, that's the way they feel about it."
Harbaugh's reservations about testing make sense on a couple of levels. Michigan, for one, has been one of the states hit hardest by the COVID-19 outbreak with more than 5,000 deaths. Moreover, sports arenas are prime breeding grounds for a respiratory disease such as this. The Champions League soccer match between Atalanta and Valencia in February, is linked toin Italy.
Some states across the country are easing up on their shelter-in-place restrictions as well as their additional safety measurements as economies begin to open back up. The NCAA Council is set to vote Wednesday on whether its moratorium for on-campus athletic activities can expire at the end of May or if it should be extended. If it is allowed to expire, it is still up to conferences and schools to determine how to move forward.
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