As fall is quickly approaching, the decision whether to play college football this year or not will need to be made soon. Some think there’s no possible way universities can have seasons while we’re still without a COVID-19 vaccine. Others think that there’s adaptations that can be made to make things safe enough to play. Will there be a season this fall or not? Associate Publisher Chris Rhoades and Assistant Editor Elizabeth Elliott debate.
Rhoades: Too much money at stake
Just so it’s clear, I’m not necessarily saying that I think college football should be played this fall. But, when it comes to whether or not I think they will play, my answer is an emphatic yes. While I’m not quite at a 100 percent certainty level, I’m about as close to it as I can get. Here's why.
First, there comes a point where there’s simply so much money on the line that it becomes the most “important” factor when making a decision, obviously for universities and athletic conferences, but also for communities in general. The impact of not having college football for just one season could have dire consequences for many years down the road. It’s this factor that makes me think that the powers that be will have almost “no choice” but to play a season.
Second, while no one wants to admit it — because you’ll get yelled at that you want to kill grandma — the risk level for kids at that age is almost non-existent. Many teams have been testing their entire roster to find out that multiple players tested positive. However, almost none of them had any symptoms or were affected in any way. To this point, I don’t believe any of the positive tests from college football players have lead to even one hospitalization. Literally, if they had not tested, no one would have even thought they might have had the virus.
My seventh grade son played basketball last weekend. Five games, full contact, nothing any different than any other tournament, fans included. If they allow children to play full contact sports, I can’t imagine a business with millions — if not billions — on the line won’t find a way to play. How that season will look, I’m not sure. But, I’m confident I’ll be watching football on Saturdays in the very near future.
Elliott: No college football this year
There's no way college football will be played this year.
There are too many variables with the coronavirus pandemic to make it feasible.
Sports that include less contact are not even immune to coronavirus. Athletes in other sports that have already resumed practices are testing positive for COVID-19. In Woodbine, Iowa, a high school baseball team had a positive case in June which the health department urged them to self-quarantine for 14 days from the last time the athlete was at practice.
Think about how many weeks for how many players that teams would have to give up if a positive test comes back. There aren't enough players to run the field.
Unless you would keep a core team of players in total isolation just to guarantee a number of players it doesn't seem like it would work.
Clemson had 37 positives on their team and Kanas State had to suspend their workouts for 14 days as 14 people tested positive.
Even our beloved Nebraska Cornhuskers are not immune. Coach Scott Frost said in an article in the Omaha World-Herald there were eight people who tested positive. Some weren't football players, but if the Huskers can't avoid positive tests, how will others?
Besides, how good can the games be when the conditioning and preparation that's been delayed or altered in ways throughout the pre-season? Are the players even going to be ready for such a contact sport?
When schools are having to weigh the safety of students and teachers returning to the classroom, there's no way to guarantee there won't be a 14-day quarantine so often in football there would be a team with enough players to play.
The large number of fans not being in the stands would have a negative impact on the players, as well.
If college football isn't played this year, fans will have to keep their football teams in their heart and perhaps turn their attention to one of the other sports in the meantime.