The National Collegiate Wrestling Association held its national championships this weekend, despite major concerns about the spread of COVID-19, a strain of the coronavirus.
The NCWA operates outside the NCAA, which suspended all sporting events in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Think of it as club wrestling, for teams outside of sanctioned NCAA competition.
The NCWA national championships saw over 600 athletes from 84 colleges in attendance, including large schools such as Ohio State and UCLA. The event was held in Allen, Texas, a suburb of Dallas.
When asked why the event wasn't canceled despite recommendations from local governments and the CDC, tournament executive director Jim Giunta told the Dallas Morning News that he believed "a lot of this is driven by fear" and "we're going to operate on faith rather than fear."
The tournament had three main mats that were in use, according to the Dallas Morning News, which were sanitized just three times a day. Athletes who registered a fever over 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit were meant to be disqualified, but officials said that no athletes had their temperatures taken at the event. Referees were not allowed to raise athletes' hands after winning a match.
While 11 schools dropped out due to coronavirus concerns, some coaches in attendance backed up Giunta's decision.
"From a philosophical perspective, do I think it's overhyped? Yes, I do," said Liberty University coach Jesse Castro about the fear generated by the coronavirus. "You know the talking points. We've dealt with this kind of stuff before. … We're vigilant and we use common sense, but I refuse to live in fear. I'm not gonna do that."
Castro, who brought 19 athletes to the event, said he believes part of the overreaction is related to ire directed at President Donald Trump. Castro said he concurred with his school president, Jerry Falwell Jr., who argued on Fox News earlier in the day that the coronavirus was being used by Democrats to impeach the president.
Read more over at The Dallas Morning News.