Deep Concerns About COVID Spread During UW-Madison Football Weekends

The front page of Friday’s Wisconsin State Journal underscores the angst and concern that is building within Madison about the potential spread of COVID-19 once university football games begin in October. The growing list of public voices being registered about the real likelihood of additional caseloads in our city and across Dane County resulting from parties and football gatherings is suspected to increase in volume. As it should, given the consequences to our public health. At the same time we need to be honest about the lessons the football players need to learn about this moment in time.

Two city council members registered their dismay along with questions about the proposed games, and in so doing have made it clear this needed discussion and will continue.

District 5 Alder Shiva Bidar and I have raised questions about Badger home football games and the potential impact on nearby neighborhoods. These questions are being posed to UW-Madison and the Chancellor’s office, as well as to Public Health and the Mayor’s office. We want to know if fans will be allowed to attend and how many home games would be played.  We are concerned about possible beer gardens and tailgating, the congregate activity that could occur along Regent and Breese, and the blow

The new cases that are being reported across the state are reaching the highest levels yet, and the reason for this stems from the caseloads being reported at college campuses. UW-Madison has a growing problem which even required quarantining two dorm buildings, and yet the administration voted to start football in late October. Just at the time, it needs to be noted when health professionals are concerned with not only COVID-19 but also when the flu season will start to tick upwards. As was noted in an editorial cartoon within today’s paper, sadly, that makes for the perfect storm.

Former Madison city Council member Brenda Konkle has been steadfast in her reporting and amassing of data to show the pitfalls that Dane County is experiencing in combatting the virus. She placed the following graphic on her page this week. No one can be pleased with the steep direction of the caseloads.

It is most disheartening to ponder how the football program at UW-Madison cannot comprehend the moment in which the state now finds itself. Everybody is doing less than they did a year ago, staying at home more than they wish, and restricting themselves not only for their own health but for the greater good. I find it hard to imagine how the coaches and administrators of the sports program cannot instill within those fine young men who we hear so much about the need at times to act for the greater good. That needs to be the priority. It is that lesson that would be much more important for these student athletes to now learn as they move forward with their adult life.

Make no mistake that city and county officials have every right to demand accountability from the university. They also have a right to demand that those who wish to participate in game day activities do so in a restrained, manageable, and public health oriented manner. If they cannot abide they must be ticketed. The gravity of the situation is too great to allow for the greed from those who wish to pursue football games to endanger us all.