Wolf Pack’s team physician reacts to season cancellation and increased worries around COVID-19 and athletes

Published: Aug. 12, 2020 at 12:46 AM PDT
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - COVID-19 continues to call the plays when it comes to the sports world.

A day after the Mountain West postponed its fall season, the Big-Ten and Pac-12 Conferences each halted their years. The Pac-12 went as far as to postpone all sports through the rest of 2020.

At Nevada, the Wolf Pack had taken a diligent approach in keeping the Coronavirus from affecting any of its operations since football and both men’s and women’s basketball players returned to campus in June. The University never reported any COVID-related disruptions.

It was Dr. Tony Islas, the Wolf Pack’s team physician, who led the charge in developing and overseeing Nevada’s protocols. He applauded the efforts from all parties involved to adhere to the safest practices possible.

“I think we had done a great job here on our campus,” said Dr. Islas. “The problem, unfortunately, is bigger than our campus.”

While saying he’s “sad” and “heartbroken” for the athletes and coaches affected, Dr. Islas also couldn’t help but agree with the decision to pause on bringing college sports back given the state of the Coronavirus nationwide.

”This is wise decision,” said Dr. Islas. “I think us taking a step back and saying, ‘Let’s put the athletes’ health first.‘”

In addition to concerns around the virus itself, there’s worries about a potential heart condition which could harm athletes long-term, even after they’ve recovered from COVID-19. Viral Myrocarditis, essentially inflammation of the heart, has been known to occur alongside viruses like H1N1 and Mononucleosis.

Dr. Islas says while it appears to be also be connected to COVID-19, it’s still unclear how prevalent it could be. He says all athletes who test positive for the virus should subsequently be checked for this “infection that affects the heart muscle.”

“It’s deadly serious. Deadly serious,” said Dr. Islas. “It’s something you have to take into consideration.”

Dr. Islas also referencing the mental toll this will put on college athletes, a potentially big problem which could stem from the continued postponements of athletics.

”The athlete has basically defined themselves as an athlete. When I say you can’t play that sport, that’s harmful,” said Dr. Islas. “There’s a psychological component to all of this.”

While the Coronavirus appears to still be in the driver’s seat, Dr. Islas admitted early on he felt optimistic about the chances of a season happening. But since then, things have trended the wrong direction.

He says we have to put some of the collective blame on all of us, re-iterating the ever-prevalent seriousness and danger of the virus.

“We’re all to blame, to some extent,” added Dr. Islas. “We have to continue working on our social distancing and maintaining good COVID hygiene practices.”

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