After the initial outbreak, people stopped talking so much about the swine flu. I guess everyone realized that, although it can be dangerous, it is just the flu. As long as your immune system isn’t compromised and you get medical attention if your fever goes too high, you’ll be just fine in a few days, like you would be with any other type of flu.
Flu outbreaks, however, can knock down an entire team, and since this strain is so contagious, it is spreading like wildfire across college campuses, where students are always in such close proximity to one another. This isn’t an isolated problem at just a few schools.
My issue is that players are, at times, probably still playing games even though they don’t feel 100%. That leads to outbreaks at other schools, since football is a contact sport. Let’s look at the spread of flu over the past few months:
- Duke: One player was confirmed to have swine flu this August, and dozens of others from the team experienced flu-like symptoms.
- Tulane: A week before their season opener, 27 players had “mild” flu symptoms.
- Washington State: 16 players missed practices right before the season opener, and many also missed the game due to a flu outbreak at the school.
- Georgia: Safety Makiri Pugh tested positive for this strain of the flu and sat out during week one. So far, no other players have reported illness.
- Mississippi: The number of players experiencing symptoms is still growing. We’re sitting at around 30 right now, including quarterback Jevan Snead.
- Wisconsin: So far, at least 10 players have the flu.
None of these school has been as highly affected as Div-II school Stillman, however. They had to cancel their season opener, which couldn’t be rescheduled due to time issues. Ouch.
The problem is that players are worried that missing practices or games is letting the team down. If they are able, they attend, even if they’re still sniffling. Coaches need to be more forceful with players, telling them to stay home and isolate themselves for at least 48 hours before returning to the field. We don’t want to see games get canceled, and we definitely don’t want to see teams lose just because they’re down so many first-string players.