Amid a whirlwind of reports of a canceled season, unionizing players and a still uncontained pandemic, Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh released a statement Monday on his stance on playing football this fall.
“I’m not advocating for football this fall because of my passion or our players desire to play but because of the facts accumulated over the last eight weeks since our players returned to campus on June 13,” the letter reads. “I am advocating on August 10 that the virus can be controlled and handled because of these facts.”
Harbaugh went on to list facts and statistics of the Michigan football program’s testing. This included points about how zero coaches or staff have had a positive test, how no contact tracing has linked back to team facilities and how the department is following proper health and safety guidelines set by the CDC and other professionals.
“It is proven that the conduct, discipline and structure within our program have led to these stellar results,” Harbaugh said. “We respect the challenge that the virus has presented however we will not cower from it.
“ … We will continue to follow safety guidelines, teach, train, and coach those young men and their families that have put their trust in us, while advocating for a football season in the fall.”
The statement came out following reports that the Big Ten had voted to cancel its football season. Though it’s now unclear whether those reports were true, as the Big Ten is refuting that information, Harbaugh’s stance would have directly contradicted University President Mark Schlissel’s vote, according to reports.
Still, Harbaugh did not shy away from announcing his opinions, ending his statement by quoting former president Theodore Roosevelt:
“We do this ‘so that our place will not be among the cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.’ ”
It’s clear Harbaugh sees COVID’s relationship with sports to be a battle, and he has no plans of backing down.