COVID make mincemeat of US college football


US College Football update August 14, 2020 Image: University of Michigan

The Big Ten Conference has postponed the 2020 football season because of safety concerns stemming from the novel coronavirus pandemic, the league announced on Tuesday. The Big Ten is the first of college football’s elite Power Five conferences to decide against playing football this Fall in the US. The Pac-12 has also canceled all Fall sports.

After sports halted in March, college athletic departments and their conferences have gradually moved toward returning to competition this Fall. But, the United States saw a surge in the number of coronavirus cases in June and multiple schools dealt with outbreaks within their football programs even before formal practices had begun.

The Big Ten’s decision to cancel all Fall competition also affects all other fall sports — men’s and women’s soccer, men’s and women’s cross-country, field hockey and women’s volleyball. The conference said it will continue to evaluate options regarding these sports, including the possibility of playing in the Spring. The Big Ten has not made a decision regarding winter sports, such as men’s and women’s basketball, which begin their seasons in November.

“The mental and physical health and welfare of our student-athletes has been at the center of every decision we have made regarding the ability to proceed forward,” Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren said in a statement.

“As time progressed and after hours of discussion with our Big Ten Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases and the Big Ten Sports Medicine Committee, it became abundantly clear that there was too much uncertainty regarding potential medical risks to allow our student-athletes to compete this Fall.”

With the Big Ten’s decision, 41 of the 130 Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) schools have either said they will not play this Fall or are in conferences that have made that decision. The Mid-American Conference postponed its football season Saturday, becoming the first league to do so in the Football Bowl Subdivision, the top tier of college football. The Mountain West Conference followed Monday, canceling all Fall sports.

It is just all about cancellations – in addition, the University of Massachusetts, an FBS independent in football, announced on Tuesday that it was canceling its season. Last week, the University of Connecticut became the first FBS program to shut down its 2020 season, which would have been its first as an independent. Old Dominion, a member of Conference USA in most sports including football, canceled all Fall sports on Monday.

The Mountain West Conference canceled its entire Fall sports season joining the Mid-American Conference (MAC) as the second Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) conference to not play football in 2020. The FBS is the top level of college football in the United States.

The Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) and Big 12 are unsure about the future, while the Southeastern Conference (SEC) is looking for teams to join it for a season.

Big Ten is the oldest Division I collegiate athletic conference in the United States.

While the Power 5 conferences wrestle with the logistics of playing football amid a pandemic, the nation’s top college players are unifying. In messages posted across social media, players are sharing a graphic containing the logo of each Power 5 conference alongside the hashtags #WeWantToPlay and #WeAreUnited. The players’ demands include having the NCAA recognize the creation of the College Football Players Association and establish universal health and safety protocols to protect college athletes from the fatal COVID-19.

If there is no college football, it is being said that the National Football League (NFL) could backfill the TV spots. But, it is not without its share of complications as media sources say that “The league would need a one-year dispensation from the broadcast antitrust exemption, which allows the NFL to sell TV rights in a league-wide bundle but prevents the NFL from televising games on Friday or Saturday from Labor Day through early December.”

Media sources also speculated that if there’s no college football this Fall, the NFL may have to double down on making sure it gets its season in all the way through the Super Bowl.

Trump plea

US President Donald Trump made an impassioned plea for the college football season to be saved as last-minute attempts to avoid a shutdown in the wake of the global COVID-19 pandemic continued this week. The deadly virus continues to bleed the United States.

“The student-athletes have been working too hard for their season to be canceled. #WeWantToPlay,” Trump wrote on Twitter. In another tweet, Trump added: “Play College Football!

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