Sacrifice and stress: How gamers dealt with season of COVID-19

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The Saturday night time after profitable a day house sport is likely one of the greatest instances to be a university soccer participant.

Household and family members normally await with congratulatory hugs. Then there’s a good dinner, and perhaps extra celebrating with teammates and buddies. Few issues get a university city hopping like a soccer victory.

However not this season.

“I’d just about go house, lay on my sofa, watch (video) minimize ups of the sport like two or thrice. In all probability go decide up some meals,” Notre Dame offensive sort out Liam Eichenberg stated.

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To play by a pandemic, gamers needed to sacrifice a lot of their lives away from the sport together with among the greatest points of being a part of a crew.

To achieve the playoff, No. 1 Alabama, No. 2 Clemson, No. 3 Ohio State and No. 4 Notre Dame needed to go a mixed 37-2 on the sphere and hold the virus at bay.

“It’s been extremely difficult,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney stated. “I simply inform them, don’t surrender what they need most for what they might need in the meanwhile. It’s simply actually that straightforward. And the groups that do that the very best and handle this the very best, that’s who’s going to complete the very best.”

Doing so required plenty of COVID-19 testing, and the nervousness that comes with figuring out the following take a look at might be the one which places a season on maintain, and little time spent with anybody outdoors the crew.

Even when the gamers have been collectively, there have been obstacles — each literal and figurative — to bonding with teammates.

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“Consuming collectively as a crew, we do it with a glass divider between us,” Notre Dame receiver Ben Skowronek stated Monday throughout media zoom periods for the CFP. “I miss these meals and simply attending to know folks within the locker room. All that stuff.”

One other oddity introduced on by the pandemic: 4 days earlier than the New 12 months’s Day semifinals, the playoff individuals have been nonetheless on their respective campuses.

Alabama faces Notre Dame within the relocated Rose Bowl on the house of the Dallas Cowboys in Arlington, Texas. Clemson and Ohio State meet on the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans in a rematch of final yr’s thrilling semifinal.

Usually, groups arrive on the web site of their semifinal about 5 or 6 days prematurely. The majority of the preparation for the sport has already been executed. On the host metropolis, there are media availabilities, practices and a walkthrough or two on the stadium. There are actions away from the sphere, outings and meals. Plus, some unsupervised time for the gamers.

“Going to a bowl web site is at all times what you’re employed for,” Clemson linebacker Baylon Spector stated. “It’s very enjoyable. You get to do numerous various things.”

As for this week, Spector stated: “Tonight, we bought bingo night time. We’re having fun with it as a lot as we will.”

The groups will arrive on the host cities Wednesday.

Alabama and Clemson gave gamers some freedom to be with household on Christmas and different breaks this season, however with strict orders to masks up and hold their distance, even with family members.

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Notre Dame and Ohio State have been extra cautious, maintaining their gamers on campus over the latest vacation weekend.

There’s nonetheless extra COVID-19 testing to be executed, and every crew has discovered by expertise nothing is assured this season.

“It was actually demanding, however the principle factor was attempting to maintain a stage thoughts and do the issues that we wanted to do to be able to succeed,” Alabama linebacker Dylan Moses stated.

Alabama had one sport postponed due to an opponent’s COVID-19 outbreak, and performed the Iron Bowl in opposition to Auburn with out coach Nick Saban after he examined constructive.

Notre Dame had a virus outbreak pause its season for about two weeks in late September.

Clemson star Trevor Lawrence missed two video games after contracting COVID-19, together with the Tigers’ regular-season loss to Notre Dame.

Ohio State solely performed six video games after the Large Ten began in late October, dropping two video games due to opponents’ COVID-19 points and one due to their very own.

“What stood out to me essentially the most, what I discover to be the laborious factor is how in the future you possibly can observe and the following day you are out a pair weeks due to COVID,” stated Ohio State All-American offensive lineman Wyatt Davis, who has not contracted the virus. “It’s only a day-to-day factor. Holding guys to a regular you can’t exit and hang around with folks. You’ll be able to’t go see your loved ones.”

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Josh Myers, Davis’ pal and linemate, did contract COVID-19. Myers stated 10 days in isolation was horrible, principally due to the boredom and inactivity. He stated he has had no lingering results of the virus.

Tigers linebacker Mike Jones stated profitable made the restrictions simpler to dwell with and Clemson did a very good job of implementing and implementing protocols. After some time it felt regular, however it was something however the regular school expertise.

” it’s sort of bizarre not with the ability to hang around with your pals on a regular basis,” Jones stated. “Not with the ability to see your loved ones after the sport. Not going house throughout your bye week since you don’t wish to danger it. (No) celebrating after wins and stuff like that. Being along with your buddies on the bus to away video games.

“It’s been rather a lot. We’ve all had these trials and managed to get by them.”

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