Eight (Really Bad) Reasons College Football is Back!
Wearing my Colorado Buffaloes jersey I scurried to the kitchen and grabbed the closest dishrag. The dust had accumulated on the chips-and-dip bowl placed high above the shelf, but I would take care of it. The logoed beer glasses would need a rinse, but that could be salvaged as well. The Big Ten had just announced that college football was coming back, and conferences such as the Pac-12 and others would soon follow their lead.
It was crazy to think that just over a month ago the Big Ten postponed all fall sports due to ongoing health and safety concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The conference instituted an Infectious Disease task force, a Sports Medicine committee, and worked with medical experts and government authorities gathering information, evaluating emerging data, and monitoring developments until they finally concluded that it just wasn’t safe.
Less than two weeks ago, the Big Ten had said that their decision would not be revisited due to the amount of medical uncertainty and continued health risks. With college campuses dealing with outbreaks, and athletic departments struggling to stay open, the season looked over. Or so we thought.
Then on September 16, just one week later, the conference got together for a Vote to Return and unanimously decided to bring college football back starting somewhat immediately stating that significant medical protocols including antigen testing, enhanced cardiac screening, and an enhanced data-driven approach would allow a safe return to the sport.
Here are eight (really bad) reasons why college football is back.
- Teams like Alabama, Georgia Southern, and LSU showed that it was safe to play – Well, sort of. The University of Alabama has had over 2,400 positive COVID-19 results while the state has one of the highest per capita infection rates in the nation. Georgia Southern had to cancel their most recent game when 33 players were put on the COVID-19 list. And LSU coach, Ed Orgeron, was recently quoted as saying, “Most of our players have had Covid-19.” Hardly a glowing recommendation for the safety of the sport.
- Coming back in the fall was needed for pro prospects and the chance for teams to compete for a National Championship – It’s great that the athletes have an opportunity to showcase their talents for the next level. But the reality is that only 2% of college football players move on to the NFL. And as for competing for a National Championship? Let’s get real. With Clemson, Alabama, and LSU already playing, we are really just talking about one school. Ohio State.
- Enhanced testing and protocols make it safe to play – If I was told that my new and improved safety protocol included enhanced cardiac screenings from a trained cardiologist, my first question would be…Why the hell do I need a cardiologist!!!???
- Politics – It is hard to tell whether lawsuits, political pressure, or even the involvement of the President had anything to do with the return of Big Ten football, but one thing confuses me. If Donald Trump is saying that a vaccine could be available by late October, shouldn’t you pushback the October 23rd start date by a week or two?
- College football is good for the economy – True! College football brings money to small businesses, fills restaurants in small college towns, packs hotels, crams bars, and provides life to campuses everywhere. Sounds like College football is good for the COVID too.
- College football will use daily antigen testing and stringent contact tracing to ensure safety – It shouldn’t be surprising that football is back in the fall, and the other non-revenue sports won’t be updated until sometime in the near future. But conferences like the Big Ten would sure have an easier time if they started with the tennis team rather than football. A team like Michigan can have as many as 125 active players, 40 coaches, and dozens of staff members including consultants, analysts, and graduate assistants. Add family members and friends, cheerleaders and bands, the 50,000 students that attend the university, opposing teams, and the 107,000 capacity of the football stadium and colleges have some work to do.
- An enhanced data-driven approach will guide the process – The first question is which data? The overall trend is that the death rate is falling in the United States, but the Big Ten states of Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Maryland all showed an increase of cases last week. Are they going with the Anthony Fauci version of the CDC report, or the rewrite?
- Money – The Big Ten talked about enhanced safety protocols, data-driven instruction, and daily rapid testing, but they forgot to mention the money? Must have been an oversight.
As a fan, I’m ecstatic that college football is back and thrilled that these athletes can continue their passion. But studying the long-term effects of having COVID-19 is kind of difficult when the disease basically started in February. And a data-driven approach seems a little suspect when that data includes 6.75 million positive cases along with 200,000 deaths in the United States alone.
On Saturday, the Baylor Bears were forced to suspend their game versus the Houston Cougars when the team announced it lacked the number of eligible players necessary to compete. If Baylor, a team that has played through multiple investigations, allegations, and even a NCAA citation for Lack of Institutional Control, isn’t able to play a game due to COVID-19….this thing is serious.
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