IOWA CITY, Iowa – It’s complicated.
“It” is how we view the COVID-19 pandemic. The unknown effects of the novel virus is creating great debate across the land ranging from sending children back to schools to playing college football.
Nobody has the right answers. We’re learning as we go. The team doctor for the Iowa Hawkeyes and USA Wrestling Andy Peterson says as much.
The uncertainty of risk is showing up in how the parents of Iowa Football players are viewing last week’s Big Ten decision to cancel the fall season. Even one father and son see it differently.
Maurice Goodson, the father of sophomore running back Tyler Goodson, has been out in front of a parent group asking the conference for answers and ultimately seeking a reversal of the ruling.
“I have always been one to believe that you can’t live life in fear. We have to find a way to move forward while ensuring player safely,” Maurice told HN.
Goodson believes most Big Ten members have put together comprehensive safety plans and protocols that will, for the most part, keep the players safe. His wife, Felicia Goodson, does not share his opinion.
“For me, there are too many unknowns with the virus, and while the risk is low, there is still the small chance that a kid can die or have long-term issues. Even one kid dying or suffering long term for me is one too many, especially if that kid is mine,” Felecia said.
Chances are you’re going to agree with either Felicia or Maurice here. Who’s right? We don’t know.
Taylor Goodson, their son who is a freshman cornerback at Mercer University, is one of 30 players on his team to have contracted the virus. He’s recovering after being released from quarantine on Friday.
“Taylor was one of the ones that got pretty sick but he does suffer from asthma. He still cannot smell or taste. It is no joke. Having seen this virus up close and personal, I am totally okay with the (Big Ten) Conference cancelling and taking their time to develop a comprehensive plan where we can resume sports as safely as possible,” Felicia said.
Felicia and Maurice respect each other’s position. Both have their children’s best interests in mind. Their 16-year-old son, Tavien, likely will be taking on-line only classes at Suwanee (GA) Gwinnett North High this fall in a district that is not mandating facial coverings.
“It has been a very intense topic of discussion for us, to say the least,” Felecia said.
The frustration for Maurice and other Hawkeye parents wanting to see their sons play stems from a lack of transparency from the Big Ten. They are being joined by parents from Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan and Nebraska in writing letters to conference administrators requesting details of their decision. Some of the parents are planning on showing up Friday at league headquarters in Rosemont, Ill, to ask for a response.
The PAC-12 canceled fall football last Tuesday shortly after the Big Ten announcement. It included a 12-page document on why it was pulling the plug. It received very little pushback from players, parents and coaches.
In comparison, the Big Ten has handled the situation miserably. It’s been almost a week since parents started asking for answers when the coaches and players failed to receive them. The conference’s reputation as a leader among its peers has been greatly damaged.
Commissioner Kevin Warren and the league’s athletic directors met regularly, often daily, since the pandemic began in March. They told us they were working on plans for all scenarios. Not playing in the fall had to be on the list.
Yet, here we are. Coaches and players await a plan for training and practicing in the fall. There’s talk about playing in the spring, but the Big Ten isn’t revealing any possibilities for it. If it knew it might cancel in the fall, it should have answers to these questions after six months of meetings.
“If a decision is made to cancel football and play in the Spring, I am advocating and asking the conference to roll out a solid plan for Fall ball (in ’21). Covid will still be here during Spring ball. It’s a two-headed monster. Don’t cancel the (’20 Fall) season. Start it in begging of October,” Maurice Goodson said.
The Big Ten’s silence leaves parents like the Goodsons wondering. The same can be said for Rodney Nixon and his son, Daviyon Nixon, a junior defensive tackle for Iowa.
“I’m definitely backing the parents from Iowa and would love if the decision was reversed,” Rodney told HN.
That view contrasts with Daviyon’s.
“It’s very simple. Football is not worth more than my life,” he wrote on social media on Aug. 10.
He added: “(There’s) more to it (than) just football. It’s about life. (Yeah) we want to play, but if it saves my life then one year without football won’t hurt.”
As you would expect, Daviyon’s concerns were met with resistance by some uncertified Twitter epidemiologists. The advice provided for how he should feel was given free of charge. Welcome to 2020.
I feel for these Iowa Football families. College football serves as a microcosm for tough decisions being made around the country. Answers aren’t easy when the information is incomplete.