Nick Saban: Alabama football players safer at school than 'running around at home'

University of Alabama coach Nick Saban pushed back Monday on the possible cancellation of college football season this fall, arguing that student-athletes are safer from the coronavirus pandemic while under team supervision.

"I want to play, but I want to play for the players' sake, the value they can create for themselves," Saban told ESPN. "I know I'll be criticized no matter what I say, that I don't care about player safety. Look, players are a lot safer with us than they are running around at home. We have around a 2% positive ratio on our team since the Fourth of July. It's a lot higher than that in society. We act like these guys can't get this unless they play football. They can get it anywhere, whether they're in a bar or just hanging out."

The 2020 college football season is jeopardy this week due to uncertainty related to the pandemic. The commissioners of NCAA’s “Power Five” conferences -- The ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, PAC-12 and SEC -- held an emergency meeting on Sunday to discuss whether the fall season should be canceled or postponed.

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Several prominent college football coaches, including University of Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh and Penn State University head coach James Franklin, in calling for the season to proceed. Saban said Alabama tests its players for COVID-19 on a weekly basis.

"We also test anybody that has symptoms and have an open testing site where they can go and get tested as many times as they want or any time they feel like they need to," Saban added. "But our guys aren't going to catch [the virus] on the football field. They're going to catch it on campus. The argument then should probably be, 'We shouldn't be having school.' That's the argument. Why is it, 'We shouldn't be playing football?' Why has that become the argument?"

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Critics have argued the health risks for college athletics are too great during the pandemic. A number of college football programs have dealt with positive COVID-19 cases since on-campus workouts resumed this summer.

Star Clemson University quarterback Trevor Lawrence was among several high-profile college football stars to share “#WeWantToPlay” on social media platforms Sunday. President Trump also tweeted in support of a fall college football season.

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SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey said the conference has taken a deliberate approach to preparing for a potential season and has yet to make a final decision on whether to play.

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