Well folks, just when you thought things couldn’t get worse in Gainesville, another blow to Tim Tebow‘s immortality. Six Florida Gator players were held out of practice on suspicion of “swine flu.”
While no one has reported Tebow was among the six, I’m betting that Urban Meyer has him in quarantine. It’s the only logical, safe move. As goes Tebow, so go the Gators.
But this brings up the more important, and even less discussed, issue of team hygiene.
Staph infections abound in collegiate locker rooms. Yes, a scar on the back of my neck, so large it looks like I could plug into the Matrix, is in fact only one of many bodily injuries that is a throwback to my playing days. Only this one didn’t come at the hand of some overzealous offensive linemen. No, this one was caused by the draining of the golf-ball sized MRSA infection I had festering there.
Pleasant, I know.
Coaches want to build team unity, closeness, the whole “we’re a family thing.” Sure, it has its rewards, like, say, winning. But that closeness also means a lot of high fives, bodily contact and the occasional shared bodily fluid. Water bottles, drinking cups, weight rooms. Everything is shared, and because you really aren’t afraid of what your teammates might be carrying, you’ll gladly bat cleanup at the water fountain, ignorant of the fact that five of your buddies probably sneezed all over it only moments ago.
Coaches treat sick players with differing degrees of sympathy. For example, I once found myself with a stomach bug, puking on the practice field. I was afforded a few plays off and then told to get my fat butt back in there — I was dispensable.
On the other end of the spectrum, I remember when future first-round draft pick, and Indianapolis Colt running back Donald Brown (the nation’s leading rusher at the time) came down with a mild case of the sniffles. He was rushed to the proverbial ER for a battery of tests. Coach gave him the day off and sent him back to his apartment to rest up. (I know Donny will kill me for publishing that, but hey, I’m still a little bitter.)