Wow, just to be young again. That sense of invincibility, no fears of contagion. Even during a worldwide pandemic.

What fun, dozens of athletes flocking to a large off-campus party at the University of Louisville. The stereotypical college gathering, with free food and cold beer flowing. Young people rubbing shoulders with their peers. Lots of new faces, laughs, loud music and merrymaking. Few masks, little regard for social distancing, 

Oh and the ominous presence of COVID-19. Can’t hold a party these days and not expect the ol’ coronavirus not to show up.

Such fun until the spread of the virus is detected, causing Athletic Director Vince Tyra to pause four fall sports — men’s and women’s soccer, volleyball and field hockey. The seasons were already in jeopardy but the outbreak makes it more and more likely that the entire season could be canceled.

Tyra paused fall preparations after 29 members of the four teams tested positive. Multiple other teammates and student-athletes from other sports were potentially exposed to the virus and remain in quarantine due to contact tracing (fortunately, the football team was not at the party).

“Now we’re going to follow the protocols related to their care and return to competition as is appropriate,” UofL athletic director Vince Tyra said during a video conference with reporters on Wednesday afternoon. “But, we’ve noted from the very beginning that we have a strong commitment from our medical and administrative staff, and the athletic department, that we expect to be met with the same commitment from our student-athletes and unfortunately we’ve had a failure in the recent week to do so.

“And yet, we’ll continue to educate, re-educate them on the overall and specific risks related to activities such as, wearing a mask and washing their hands. Our staff remains committed to their care as you can imagine. It goes without saying that I’m incredibly disappointed and frustrated today with what’s occurred.”

Unfortunately, especially among the young, lessons will be learned the hard way.

Charlie Springer

Charlie Springer is a former Louisville editor and sportswriter, a public affairs consultant, a UofL grad and longtime fan.

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