COVID-19 Outbreak Amongst Wisconsin Badgers Shows Fragility of College Football

The No. 9 Badgers were forced to cancel their game on Saturday against Nebraska

COVID-19 Outbreak Amongst Wisconsin Badgers Shows Fragility of College Football
The Wisconsin logo in an end zone at Lambeau Field.
Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The ninth-ranked Wisconsin Badgers will not be playing their game this weekend against Nebraska thanks to a COVID-19 outbreak that has affected players and staff members, including head coach Paul Chryst.

The tests, which came back positive for at least six student-athletes and six staff members, have led Wisconsin to pause all team-related activities for at least seven days.

“This morning I received the news that I had tested positive via a PCR test I took yesterday,” Chryst said in a statement released by the university on Wednesday. “I informed my staff and the team this morning and am currently isolating at home. I had not been experiencing any symptoms and feel good as of this morning. I am disappointed for our players and coaching staff who put so much into preparing to play each week. But the safety of everyone in our program has to be our top priority and I support the decision made to pause our team activities.”

Since the Big Ten just started play last weekend and is attempting to fit 10 games into as many weeks, the Wisconsin-Nebraska game will not be rescheduled, a development which will have a negative impact on the Badgers’ ability to qualify for a championship game.

With one game already completely wiped off their schedule, the Badgers could also end up missing their upcoming games against Purdue and Michigan or playing them while missing key players.

Although the situation is unique to Wisconsin at this juncture, it points to how difficult it will be for major programs to make it through the season healthy and earn the right to play for a title.

“If anyone ever tells you that winning a national championship in any college sport didn’t involve some luck, they’d be lying to you,” Chris Howard, president of Robert Morris University who served on the College Football Playoff Selection Committee from 2017 to 2019, told The Wall Street Journal. “Luck is injuries…In football, it’s next man up. Coronavirus is kind of an extension of that. There’s some luck involved in not getting it.”

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