Big Ten and Pac-12 Should Reconsider Decisions If New Saliva Test Is True Gamechanger

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This weekend brought some potentially phenomenal news in the form of a new FDA-approved Covid-19 test that is apparently rapid, inexpensive (about $4 per test), and accurate (it has about 90 percent accuracy, which means you only have a 1 percent margin of error when you test twice). If you’re interested in the background information, Zach Lowe details how the NBA and NBPA funded Yale University’s work to develop the test. Dan Wetzel details how these tests could be a game-changer, and wonders aloud if the Big Ten and Pac-12 canceled their seasons too soon.

Outkick has been banging the drum all week that the Big Ten and their lapdog followers in the Pac-12 acted haphazardly. The Big Ten made their decision to cancel the season about five minutes after they released their schedule. Parents of football players at Iowa, Ohio State, and Penn State have asked Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren to reconsider. A University of Michigan cardiologist essentially says the conference relied on a study that has more holes in it than a 1972 Grateful Dead tour t-shirt.

Kevin Warren’s own son is slated to play for Mississippi State this season, and the elder Warren said he felt safe with that decision less than a week before deciding to cancel the Big Ten’s season.

SEC commissioner Greg Sankey has been rational throughout this process, postponing the conference’s season until late September and acknowledging that he’s not certain they’ll be able to play football this year but nonetheless holding out that it’s also too soon to cancel.

The good news here is that the Big Ten and Pac-12 canceled their seasons so soon that it actually isn’t too late to reverse course. Their ambitions to play in the Spring (really, Winter) are not rooted in reality. There would be too many games in a calendar year. Flu season will be in full swing. If vaccines are somehow available by then it would be irresponsible to distribute them to young, healthy athletes when so many people are at higher risk of devastating effects from the virus.

If this test is a true game-changer that it seems to have the potential to be, then the Big Ten and Pac-12 should reverse course and un-cancel their seasons.

Written by Ryan Glasspiegel

Ryan Glasspiegel grew up in Connecticut, graduated from University of Wisconsin-Madison, and lives in Chicago. Before OutKick, he wrote for Sports Illustrated and The Big Lead. He enjoys expensive bourbon and cheap beer.


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  1. I think this would be a perfect re-entry point for the Big 10 and Pac 12 to rejoin fall football with a late-September start, especially with the pressure coming from parents of the major schools. At this point, unfortunately, I don’t see them reversing course unless several Big 10 Schools threaten to leave the conference permanently, which I don’t see happening.

    • I’m sure the NCAA doesn’t want the humiliation of two of its major conferences watching the other 3 [and others ] playing football just fine, and [horror of horrors!] managing to hold a freaking playoff and crowning a champion. Anything an “NCAA doctor” says should be met with intense scrutiny and suspicion.

  2. Why is testing key?

    Testing is being used as a fear tool.

    When I was a kid my crazy mother had me tested for allergies. They stuck dozens of needles in my body to see what I was allergic to. The horrible testing said I was allergic to peanut butter, cut grass and oats or something.

    Guess What I did? I pretty much lived on Peanut Butter Sandwiches and Cheerios (made from oats). Then I cut the grass. Never had a problem.

    I’ll never forget the day I told the doctor I’m not coming back in for any shots. I literally said to Madre’ , I’m going outside to cut the lawn.

    • LOL Chris…I feel your pain with those allergy shots…I love PB&J, would eat it for dinner if I had to lol, but the saliva test is quick, apparently very accurate, and it’s knowledge…no matter what you say about fear…it’s data that’s needed. Doesn’t have to be a fear tool, but if I’m at work with 50 guys, it’s nice to know we’re all clear.
      Of course that’s only a snapshot, but it does show the people WERE practicing proper precautions up to and including the quick results coming in. I’m not talking school kids and 20-somethings…I’m talking for middle age folks who may have existing conditions they need to worry about. And they can’t stay home because they have bills to pay and families to feed.
      I just don’t think it has to be a zero sum game…we can go to work, of course, but nothing wrong with having information/data. That’s not a bad thing.

  3. This is exciting news. No question it gives more access and is cheaper but we are not quite to rapid on site testing. Saliva would still have to be sent off to a lab. Quick results once at lab. Real progress, not yet a complete solution.

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