Mississippi State football players to wear COVID-19 contact tracing devices

Mississippi State football players can expect to wear some new bling this season. The SEC announced on Tuesday all SEC players will be required to wear a device to aid in contact tracing.

The devices, called SafeTags, are produced by KINEXON SafeZone technology. They are lightweight, wearable devices that will be used conference-wide for football student-athletes at team facilities during practices and games.

“Approximately the size of a watch face, the device is worn as a wristband or on a lanyard or can be built into equipment for use on-field in practices and games,” the SEC said in its statement.

The NFL already utilizes the SafeZone technology and so far the results have been very good through the first two weeks of the NFL season. All NFL players and coaches tested negative ahead of their Week 1 games, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.

The SEC said it chose this new contact tracing technology due to the large number of participating student-athletes and the complexity of contact tracing unique to the sport of football.

The SafeZone technology is not simply just GPS, as it uses ultra-wideband technology to accurately measure the proximity between individuals by distance and length of time. This allows the system to perform quick and accurate contact tracing when someone is symptomatic or tests positive for COVID-19. The SafeTags can even enforce social distancing by flashing a red light when closer than six feet to another individual.

This new announcement is great news for not only Mississippi State football players but all SEC football players. Not only should this be a tremendous addition to the fight against the spread of COVID-19, but it also shows the SEC is clearly invested in protecting their student-athletes.

Mississippi State football players should expect to wear these SafeTag wristbands throughout the season. It shouldn’t hinder them at all and in fact, should make playing the 2020 season safer for everybody. This is great news for those fearful of losing control of COVID-19 in the locker room.

While the new contact tracing technology will certainly help maintain player safety, the cold hard truth is that it is ultimately up to the players to continue social distancing, wearing masks and taking extra precautions in order to stay COVID-19 free. Head coach Mike Leach has stressed this point throughout training camp.

“We’ve talked about it constantly and we’ll continue to talk about it constantly,” Leach said after Mississippi State’s first practice. “The honest answer is there really isn’t a ton we can do beyond that. Everybody can talk about all the elaborate measures that they want, but I don’t know what you’re doing when you leave this meeting. I don’t know what you decided to do. So multiple that times 120. The best thing that we can do is educate to the extent that we can and then go on from there.”

Hopefully, the Bulldogs act responsibly and stay safe so that we can all enjoy some good old fashioned Mississippi State football on Saturdays. Hail State!

Photo courtesy of MSU Athletics Communications