I would estimate during an average week I’m asked whether or not I believe there will be college football this fall at least 10 times. You probably have that same discussion amongst your friends on a routine basis.
For the record, I have no idea. I hope so. I believe so, but the world is off its axis right now and my normal frame of reference is a tad askew.
If nothing else, major college football has a schedule in place and it has protocols set up to deal with the reality of COVID-19. July 13 is the next date of consequence on the NCAA college football calendar. That’s the day coaches can presumably start working with their players in a hands-on practice environment.
Now, there’s a lot of time between now and then. Who knows what the world could look like in three weeks much less tomorrow? Perhaps we should also draw a distinction between whether they “will” play and whether they “should” play.
The recent news 30 or more players tested positive for the virus at places like LSU and Clemson certainly brings to mind a host of scenarios and none of them is good.
What if there was an outbreak like that during the season? What if the majority of those players were starters? It would be rather difficult to play a game with all of them in quarantine.
The good news — the wonderful news — is the vast majority of the players who did test positive at those places had hardly any “significant” symptoms. There have been zero reported hospitalizations. That seems to be typical of the virus as we know it. Young athletes are undoubtedly the least susceptible to the harmful effects of COVID-19.
Let’s just look at this purely from the basic health of the players point of view. This most likely goes for all Division I athletes, but without question for the Power 5 schools. Student-athletes have access to exceptional healthcare while on campus and have the opportunity to be tested on a regular basis.
I highly doubt the majority of the players would get anywhere near that level of care in their hometowns wherever they may be. I don’t think it’s even a debate that the players are actually safer at their schools than they would be at home. I
t’s been reported the breakout in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, initially started in an area known as Tigerland where there is a series of bars. College kids are going to be college kids whether they are at home or on campus. It’s far better they have regular access to testing and treatment.
OK, young healthy athletes have little to no chance of fatality, but what about passing it on to relatives who do? Again, it’s far better to be away from home and in a dorm setting with other young healthy people. Ultimately, if a player doesn’t feel comfortable and doesn’t want to play, he is not going to be forced to do so.
I definitely believe college football will be played, but I don’t think it will be under “normal” circumstances. I can’t imagine stadiums being full of fans and I can’t imagine things running smoothly for the entire season.
Should they play? I don’t have any doubt the players want to play and I don’t have any doubt the coaches want to play. Everyone’s entitled to their opinion about what’s appropriate and reasonable. The world won’t end if there’s no college football, but it will definitely be the oddest fall in my lifetime.
Then again, that’s so 2020.