by Jimmy Yates ’21
College Football, the biggest entertainment attraction for universities across the nation, is facing the same conflict many sports faced earlier in the year. It doesn’t matter how much money will be lost or fans disappointed, it’s time to postpone the fall season. High school sports in many states have already been cancelled or postponed for the fall and winter seasons. The NBA, NHL, and MLB all had to suspend play until they came up with a safe way to play. Well, the MLB may not have found a safe way to play, but the NBA and NHL have not yet recorded a single positive case of Covid-19. How? By isolating all players in a so-called ¨bubble¨ and testing frequently. The majority of conferences have no plans of isolating players, but have full plans of playing a fall football season.
The Big Ten joined the Pac-12 to no longer be on that list of power conferences foolishly plowing ahead with plans for football. On August 11, The Big Ten and Pac-12 announced that their football season would be postponed until spring or possibly longer. This came despite the #WeWantToPlay player movement is gaining momentum, and coaches such as Michigan’s John Harbaugh are speaking out in favor of playing. While The Big Ten is the biggest cancellation so far, the Pac-12, the Mid-American Conference, and the Mountain West all cancelled their seasons as well.
As more and more conferences cancel, larger conferences should follow in The Big Ten’s footsteps until the SEC, the juggernaut conference of college football finally cuts the cord. The SEC is the largest, most popular football conference in the nation. So far, they have shown no signs of cancelling. The SEC is the most viewed, attended, and largest income conference.
It is simply unreasonable to mix student athletes with others from their own college, and athletes from other colleges. If the MLB, a professional sports organization, could not keep players safe and Covid-free for the first few weeks, how is every college supposed to miraculously do so? Even if some do a better job than others, when players come into contact with one another, the hard work of one school goes down the drain and the importance of having a season once again leapfrogs the well-being of players.
In a discussion between SEC officials and players, The Washington Post reported that several players spoke out about the concerns they had about having a fall season, including probable outbreaks and lack of social distancing between players. While players have the option of opting out of the fall season, like LSU’s star safety Kary Vincent did. Some players cannot afford to miss a season and put their chance of being drafted into the NFL in danger.
Universities across the nation have already experienced the chaos that Covid-19 brought to campuses. At the University of North Carolina, for example, Covid-19 cases spiked as students returned to campus and interacted with each other. As a result, all classes were moved online and the University reduced the number of students living on campus. If colleges can’t keep students from contracting the virus, how can college players travel all over the country and come into contact with each other without spreading the virus and putting all involved at risk?
The Big Ten made the right decision to cancel fall sports. The SEC, ACC, and fellow conferences need to do the same and value players’ health above all else.