The Push to Play
Should the NCAA have started the college football season, or should they have immediately canceled it? Read to find out.
by Prithvi Prem
The seven days between March 6 and March 13 stood as one of the most monumental times in sports history. During these seven days, the entire sports world paused their seasons and took a hiatus for the next few months. This included the NCAA ( National Collegiate Athletic Association), who canceled March madness, and all other spring sports. But 5 months later, all other major US sports have resumed, except the NCAA, who were yet to announce their plans for starting the college sports season.
There has been more and more pressure on the NCAA committee to come up with a decision or the upcoming football season. For months, college sports leaders have declared that if classes do not return on campus this fall, football and other sports would not be played. But even then, some believe exceptions can be made if there is other limited student activity, and there is increasing pressure to find ways to operate.
On last Thursday, September 9th, the NCAA resumed their season and every conference except the Pack 12 and the Big 10 are going to begin.
This is where the trilemma is presented. Should the NCAA have started the college football season, or should they immediately cancel it? Or is there perhaps a neutral perspective?
Stance 1: College football should have resumed
Over the past couple of months, many people have called for the NCAA to resume the college football season on time. These people include US President Donald Trump, who on August 10th, tweeted “ Play College Football!” Clemson Quarterback,
Trevor Lawrence, one of college football’s biggest stars, came out with a statement of support for starting the season as planned. He had many reasons as to why he made that decision, including the fact that “players will all be sent home to their own communities where social distancing is highly unlikely and medical care and expenses will be placed on the families if they were to contract COVID-19”. This is a valid claim by Lawrence considering that most NCAA football athletes come from marginalized, smaller towns, where COVID regulations are not as imposed as larger cities. This essentially means that NCAA athletes are much safer at school than at home.
Another argument made by Lawrence
is that athletes can use football to maintain emotional stability, like a safe haven, blocking out all the chaos happening across the country. Many players are involved in off-the-field issues that are bothering them, so they can use football as an escape from it all. Especially with the ongoing Black Lives Matter movement, many student-athletes will be filled with emotion around the current state of the country. They could take a break from it all, by participating in the football season. College football could also provide a much-needed break for many fans around the US, who might be caught up in other problems.
Lawrence’s last, most compelling argument is that having a season will
incentivize players to be safe and take all of the right precautions to try to avoid contracting COVID, especially with the safety of other plates on the line. As we’ve seen, there are still many people who do not wear masks or obey regulations. With the universities imposing their own guidelines, players will have to follow them, ensuring that they will not contract the virus.
Stance 2: College football should not resume.
Much of the skepticism over the start of college football, is attributed to anxieties over the organization of collegiate athletes en masse. Especially in college football, where the roster size is at least 105 players, keeping a distance from one another would be really tough. And if a player gets infected with the virus, keeping them quarantined would be a hassle.
Keeping infected players quarantined for two weeks won't account for the potential lingering effects of the virus on the heart and brain, even after symptoms have disappeared. To make things worse, schools are devising their own COVID-19 testing schedule, which could put players at certain schools at a higher risk of contracting the virus.
While some schools are testing their players multiple times a week, other schools are only testing players who exhibit symptoms of the virus. Certain conferences such as the Big-10 and Pac-12 are aware of these concerns and have already suspended their seasons. But for the SEC, Big-12, and ACC, they are going on as planned. Their main arguments center around the fact that there is a lack of cases within their schools and teams. It’s easy to contract the virus though; if one player contracts it, it can spread like wildfire throughout the teams.
Many players have already opted-out of the season, the biggest name being Georgia quarterback, Jamie Newman. If these schools are missing their best players and leaders, is there really any point in playing?
Stance 3: Neutral Stance
Currently, in the US, the number of COVID-19 cases is rapidly increasing, and the regulations are yet to ease. These current circumstances do not make starting a football season any easier. That is why the NCAA should have waited to resume the football season, until after regulations have been eased.
This will not only benefit the NCAA but also the players and other businesses as well. With regulations eased, players can worry less about being safe, and focus more on the game. If fans are also allowed back into stadiums, the NCAA can make much more of a profit through ticket sales.
If football was to resume right now, the NCAA would lose money due to the lack of attendance as well as having players opt-out of the season. Businesses in and around the stadiums will also lose money due to the lack of customers. Even though Lawrence’s reasoning is relatively true, Better results can be guaranteed as the regulations ease, as opposed to starting right now. That is why it is best for the NCAA to wait until regulations have eased, to resume the season.
So should college football have resumed? I think that it should have, as the players themselves have come out and said that it will be doing themselves and the NCAA a big favor. College football is also a tradition that brings communities together, which is something that we need, in the tough times that we are currently in.