By Deke Lloyd
The college football season has been a point of much contention throughout the summer. Back in March, when the Covid-19 pandemic was still a new and unknown thing, the college football season seemed miles away and in little danger of cancelation from the rapid spreading of a deadly pandemic. With quarantining, social distancing, and masks, the virus could be controlled and life would continue to go on by the time summer rolled around. Now, almost through August, the pandemic continues to run through states across the country leaving the college football season on a lifeline.
For college football, the first domino to fall was when the Ivy League announced there would be no football this fall. While the Ivy League is little-known for their football teams, it was still a sizable shift in the college football landscape. At that point, it was still unclear what the rest of college football would do with the upcoming season.
The next domino to fall would be a major one for the world of college football. On August 11th, after a few other smaller conferences decided to postpone their fall sports, it was announced that the BIG 10, home of powerhouse football factories like Ohio State, Penn State, and Michigan, would be postponing their fall season with a possible move to the spring. That same day the PAC 12, home of some of the most prominent West Coast schools, would make their announcement to postpone their football season.
With the announcement of the college football season being postponed for two of the five Power 5 conferences, there was an uproar from players, coaches, and families. Trevor Lawrence, of Clemson, started the #WeWantToPlay movement. This hashtag picked up steam on Twitter until it was a full-fledged movement after being picked up by college football players all over the country, most notably from the BIG 10 and PAC 12.
Less than a week after the BIG 10 and PAC 12 called off their seasons, Justin Fields, the Ohio State quarterback, started an online petition to support the #WeWantToPlay movement. The petition stated the players of the BIG 10 should be allowed to make their own decisions regarding safety and the college football season. The players wanted the option to opt-in or opt-out of the season depending on their. So far, the petition has over 300,000 signatures but is unlikely to make a difference in regards to the football season happening.
For a short time, the #WeWantToPlay movement was created by a college football player to try to revive their lost season. Then, politics got involved. The same day the movement began, August 10th, the president, through twitter, voiced his support for the movement. After that, the issue of college football and amateurism became a politicized topic for so many around the country.
As of now, the three remaining Power 5 conferences, the SEC, ACC, BIG 12, are planning to push through with their seasons this fall. The conferences have planned to start in September instead of the normal late-August start. The SEC will start the latest, September 26, with a conference-only schedule. The BIG 12 and ACC plan to do a conference only schedule with one non-conference game to be played at the start of their respective seasons.
At the moment, it is unclear whether or not the ACC, BIG 12, and SEC will be able to play their full schedule this season. A lot of pundits and experts do not believe it is possible for these universities to keep the COVID-19 virus off of campus and away from the general population. With classes starting for most universities over the last two weeks, it’s still unclear what danger will be posed to the students on campus.
Two prominent universities, Notre Dame and Alabama, two teams that plan on playing football this fall, have already had big COVID-19 spikes on their campus. Notre Dame and Alabama have reported having around 500 or more positive tests after students recently returned to campus. For now, the college football season will go on for these two schools.
For now, the college football season is slated to kick-off next week. Over the month of September, the season will begin in waves. Does this mean the season will actually start on time and finish in full? That’s impossible to know. With a pandemic still ravaging multiple parts of the US, it’s hard to imagine this college football season will go off with no hitches whatsoever. Likely, there will be cancelations and postponements.
With so much going on in the world at the moment, like an upcoming presidential election, a global pandemic, and protests popping up all over the country, the problems of college football have been pushed to the back of our minds for the moment. That will all change as we transition into the month of September and move closer to actual football being played by these schools. It’s almost time to get ready to play some football, but also get ready for the wave of issues and problems that come with playing football. Differing opinions, unpaid athletes risking their health and lives to play a game, and a slew of students and fans invading these campuses to cheer on their favorite teams. These are all issues that have yet to be dealt with in the world or in college football. It’s all kicking off in less than a month.
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