How health experts are responding to the push for college football

“Wants and needs are 2 different things."

FILE - In this Monday, Jan. 13, 2020, file photo, LSU quarterback Joe Burrow holds the trophy as safety Grant Delpit looks on after LSU defeated Clemson 42-25 in the NCAA College Football Playoff national championship game, in New Orleans. Imagine if a pandemic had shortened or wiped out that last, golden season for Burrow, who won the Heisman Trophy and led LSU to the national championship. Would he still have emerged as the first overall NFL draft pick? (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)
In this Monday, Jan. 13, 2020, photo, LSU quarterback Joe Burrow holds the trophy as safety Grant Delpit looks on after LSU defeated Clemson 42-25 in the national championship game in New Orleans. –Sue Ogrocki / AP, File

Health experts are weighing in on the push to allow college football to play the upcoming season, despite the COVID-19 pandemic. 

College football players from across the country banded together on Sunday in an attempt to save the season, using the hashtag #WeWantToPlay and #WeAreUnited on social media, to press their case. In the following hours and days, Republican lawmakers jumped into the debate to urge the season on, including President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.

Doctors and public health experts, meanwhile, are clapping back on social media, stressing the priority of controlling the spread of coronavirus, which has killed more than 163,000 people nationally. The U.S. currently has more than 5 million confirmed infections, the most in the world. 

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Dr. Ashish Jha, who heads Harvard’s Global Health Institute, responded to a tweet from Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio on Monday. 

“American needs college football,” the Republican congressman wrote. 

“America needs leadership to suppress the virus so kids can go back to school and people can go back to work and hospital ICUs aren’t filled and 1,000 Americans don’t die every die and our economy isn’t wrecked,” Jha responded. “And we can have college football.”

Dr. Megan Ranney, an emergency room physician and director of the Brown Center for Digital Health, reacted to the tweet from Pence that the U.S. “needs college football.”

“Wants and needs are 2 different things,” she wrote. 

Dr. Derek Monette, an emergency room physician at Mass. General Hospital, wrote that what America “needs” is a national testing plan for COVID-19, mimicking the language used by the vice president.

“It’s important for patients, clinicians, & our Nation,” he wrote. “These Great healthcare workers have trained for the opportunity to care for their communities & they deserve the chance to do their jobs w/o being sabotaged by the federal gov’t & GOP.”

Doctors weren’t the only ones calling for a difference in prioritization in response to the push for a college football season. Members of the Massachusetts congressional delegation also waded into the debate of what “America needs.” 

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“America needs us to cancel rent,” Rep. Ayanna Pressley tweeted. 

“America needs to save the @USPS,” her colleague, Katherine Clark, wrote. 

“A reminder that the majority of college football players are unpaid young Black men,” Rep. Joe Kennedy wrote. “It should surprise no one that Donald Trump is willing to put their lives at risk for his personal enjoyment.”

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.


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