For those who may have missed it, I published a piece on how the 2020 Nebraska football team would have been the best Nebraska team to not win a championship. I wrote that for a couple reasons. First, I thought it would be fun and ridiculous. Second, I didn’t think the 2020 football season was going to actually happen.
That was on May 4th.
It is only 18 days later and I now think there is zero percent chance, absent something dramatic, the college football season does not happen this coming fall.
Quite the turnaround.
It is not that I think it SHOULD happen. I am still going back and forth in my mind. My personal opinion on the subject seems to change every single day. I do my best not to grab a hold of a narrative and stubbornly stick with it. There is way too much of that going on and it appears to fall upon political ideological lines. Which is insane, but I probably should not be surprised.
What I am thinking is that people believe it NEEDS to happen and for numerous reasons.
Like the report from ESPN which states that there would be a $4 billion loss to the University system if the college football season does not happen.
“If there’s no football season, or if football season is interrupted or shortened, there will be a massive fallout,” TCU athletic director Jeremiah Donati said. “There would have to be massive cutbacks. Could the department go on? Sure. It would probably look smaller. There would potentially be fewer sports and much less programming.”
The financial devastation would spread beyond just the athletic departments. Think of the small businesses in these small college towns that literally depend on the 7+ home games for most of their revenue. The bars and restaurants. There have been large entertainment districts build around and among the college football stadiums.
Think of some of the academic institutions, research departments and academic programs which benefit from or maybe even live off of the profits from the school’s athletic departments.
Then there is Ohio State’s athletic director, Gene Smith, who said they are trying to conceptualize how to allow 20,000 fans into the stadium for games. He said that they would follow the guidelines and as the guidelines relax then they hope to allow maybe as many as 50,000+ fans into the stadium. That would be about half-full for Ohio State.
It appears that the season is coming whether you want it to or not.
Last but not least we need to think about the players and the coaches. It feels as though we may be putting them into harms way. In a sense we are asking them sacrifice for the benefit of others.
Making sacrifices for others is usually a good thing, but I don’t feel it applies in this context. Maybe it does. We need to remember that economic disasters and depressions kill people as well. The share the economic of these college towns that would be impacted by a loss of college football would likely be devastating.
We need to also remember that the virus also kills people.
Hopefully the schools are working on a testing system with protocols that would keep the players safe. Can you require a player to play if he is on scholarship? Would players feel like they are being forced to play even though they feel uncomfortable?
There are so many questions and not many answers at this point. One thing for certain is that it feels extremely likely that we will have college football this fall.