America’s favorite pastime is facing a difficult road to recovery.
College football’s fate has been up in the air since the inception of the pandemic and doubtful news is beginning to arise.
Ohio State star quarterback Justin Fields is the leader of the recently launched We Want to Play movement, a campaign aimed at requesting the Big Ten Conference to reinstate the 2020 season.
“My love for the game. My love for college football. My love for my teammates.
This situation is not only making us realize that we have a voice, but it’s also bringing us together.”
— Ohio State Football (@OhioStateFB) August 17, 2020
“We want to play,” Fields says.
“We believe that safety protocols have been established and can be maintained to mitigate concerns of exposure to COVID-19. We believe that we should have the right to make decisions about what is best for our health and our future. Don’t let our hard work and sacrifice be in vain.”
The petition has raised over 286,000 signatures and has garnered the attention of big-time athletic directors and television networks.
This cause is close to my heart – please sign: https://t.co/yFKlYE7pP0
— Justin Fields (@justnfields) August 16, 2020
Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren addressed the league’s decision on Wednesday in response to Fields’ movement.
“The vote of the Big Ten Council of Presidents and Chancellors was overwhelmingly in support of postponing fall sports and will not be revisited,” Warren said in an open letter to the Big Ten community.
Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren explained the decision to postpone fall sports in 2020: pic.twitter.com/NnCXQmGEZS
— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) August 11, 2020
Warren continued to cite multiple safety factors leading to the decision, including the fact that “transmission rates continue to rise at an alarming rate with little indication from medical experts that our campuses, communities or country could gain control of the spread of the virus prior to the start of competition.”
Fields believes that student-athletes are safer on-campus within a football bubble than anywhere else during the COVID-19 battle. He has decided not to opt-out this fall.
.@ABC NEWS EXCLUSIVE: Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields speaks with @michaelstrahan about his “We Want to Play” petition and why he says players feel safer inside their training facilities. https://t.co/K88Cs77f3a pic.twitter.com/iuT1VCGl3Q
— Good Morning America (@GMA) August 19, 2020
“For me, it’s just for the love of the game and my love for Ohio State, my coaches, and my teammates,” Fields told Good Morning America. “Just having us play football within the facility daily will keep us safe from the virus.”
The quarterback does have a point. With quarantine, consistent testing, and strict social distancing measures, a college football bubble could. The NBA’s success so far could represent a positive outlook for the method.
However, it is not quite that simple. College football is more than just a simple pastime, it is a tradition of American culture.
— Penn State Football (@PennStateFball) October 20, 2019
Because of this, the effects extend far beyond solely the players on the field.
Tailgates, parties, and other huge gatherings tailored to football are a norm among college campuses. Not to mention the countless amount of alumni, family members, and production staff who attend these events.
As a social phenomenon, college football exists as a danger to those who support it. The success of a bubble format would have to be contingent on the limitation of the NCAA’s social extensions.
Along with this exists the issue of University liability. College football players have the responsibility of being students first and therefore fall under all University rules and regulations.
— ESPN College Football (@ESPNCFB) August 19, 2020
There is a fantastically large number of policies that the NCAA must hold in coordination with university systems to allow athletic eligibility.
The sum of them all point the responsibility to the universities at the end of the day, and no college is willing to risk the health of their students over college football, no matter how financially crucial it is.
The financial loss is a bullet that universities are willing to bite. The 25 most profitable college football programs made well over $1 billion in revenue in 2018. The Texas A&M program alone garnered $148 million in revenue, netting $107 million.
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) September 12, 2019
Universities and athletic leagues are in a sticky situation as nobody wants to cancel college football. It is a profitable, longstanding, and integral part of American culture that has countless positive benefits.
Unfortunately, safety regulations are preventing any advancement. It is difficult for student-athletes to recognize it at the moment, but all of the cancellations are designed for safety purposes.
Very few people, if anybody, is benefiting from the loss of college football. Perhaps the elderly neighbors who are trying to get some sleep on a Saturday night.
We eagerly await the final decisions regarding the fall sport. Regardless of the outcome, things will eventually get better.