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Colorado tight end Jared Poplawski suffered a torn labrum in his shoulder last week in practice and will miss this season.
Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer
Colorado tight end Jared Poplawski suffered a torn labrum in his shoulder last week in practice and will miss this season.

Bert Jynes loves watching his sons play football, but he wasn’t looking forward to it this year.

The father of Colorado offensive lineman Josh Jynes, Bert was relieved to see the Pac-12 make the decision Tuesday to postpone its football season until at least January because of concerns about the coronavirus pandemic.

“I’m not in favor of them playing,” Jynes said. “I think the more that you listen to the science piece of it, it’s telling you a lot of the effects it’s having on children, from cardiovascular issues to neurological issues. That’s scary.”

The Pac-12 based its decision in part on the advice of its medical team. A report by the conference’s medical advisory board listed three current concerns, including a high rate of cases in the Pac-12 footprint, a need for more testing and “evolving information regarding potential serious cardiac side effects in elite athletes.”

Myocarditis, which is an inflammation of the heart muscle, has been found in some college athletes who had COVID-19.

“There is a risk, so being that there is a risk and being that we don’t know, to me the smartest thing to do is to take the safest route,” Jynes said.

Other parents of CU players agree, although there is some mixed emotions over the cancellation of the season.

One father of a CU player said he has concerns, but supported his son wanting to play.

“I do want my son playing because he wants to play,” he said. “He’s worked hard to get where he’s at.”

Other parents have voiced their disappointment over the decision, especially because CU has not had an outbreak on the team after several weeks of workouts.

Julie Poplawski, whose son, Jared, is a junior tight end for the Buffs, said she was surprised the season was postponed, but supports the decision.

“I don’t have all the information so I’m going to trust that  our athletic director has our kids’ best interests at heart and that he has more information than I have,” she said. “I was surprised because of the parent meeting with the Pac-12 (in July). They had such a detailed, well-thought out, medically supported plan just a couple weeks ago that I was surprised (with the decision to postpone). And of course disappointed. I want college football.”

Poplawski’s son has had multiple injuries at CU and she said she wasn’t too nervous about him playing because the game is always a risk.

“With my son, and any parent who’s gone through injuries and things, you protect your kid, you hope their immune system is strong, you hope their bones and ligaments are strong, and you hope their headspace is strong because football will test you in every way,” she said. “I wasn’t very concerned after the parent meeting in July.”

Cha-ron Harris had mixed emotions, but was ultimately pleased with the decision to postpone. Her youngest son, Jason, is an incoming freshman outside linebacker with the Buffs, while her other son, Jalen, is a redshirt junior outside linebacker at Arizona.

“Until we can control the pandemic, it was really the only decision,” she said. “The Pac-12 delayed the response, but at the end of the day, we pretty much knew what the underlying decision was going to be.”

Harris said the decision could be a blessing for Jason. He came to CU this summer at 6-foot-7, 230 pounds and is up to 238 pounds. The pause in football will allow him to put on more weight, learn the playbook better and get more acclimated to college life.

It’s a different story for Jalen, who led Arizona with four sacks last year. He graduated early and is starting a master’s program while coming into this year hoping to attract attention from the NFL.

“It’s emotional and I think the decision that was made, I support it, because I think that the bottom line should be protecting student-athletes and if we don’t have measures in place that will consistently support student-athletes, whether that’s at Colorado, Arizona, Alabama or Syracuse, there’s an issue,” Harris said.

Despite the lack of a universal system to keep the athletes safe, Harris said she has been “extremely impressed” with how the athletic departments at Arizona and CU have kept the athletes safe.

Poplawski said CU athletic director Rick George has been “amazing” in helping student-athletes get through this time.

“They did all the right things – the best you can do in a situation of so many unknowns,” she said.

It’s the unknowns, however, that led Bert Jynes to adamantly oppose to seeing this season played – even though his son wanted to play.

Jynes, who played football at Louisiana Tech, believes the push nationally to play has been driven by greed and pure entertainment and without much regard for student-athlete safety.

“I don’t think the kids should be placed in a position where they have to opt out,” he said. “I don’t think the kids should be in a position where they have to question their health. (The conferences should) follow the true advice of the medical community; not politics. Don’t let this be something that’s money driven.

“I love football. I live and breathe it. I don’t love it this much, though.”