The NFL is hard at work moving towards a season in 2020. The biggest deciding factor on whether it happens will be the collective efforts of everyone in the league to avoid contracting and spreading COVID-19, and so far the league has seemingly been doing a decent job. After the first wave of COVID-19 testing when players entered team facilities and several landed on the reserve/COVID-19 list, only a handful of players have newly received that designation.
That and the ability of the players to have representation and bargaining power with the league through the NFLPA have the league optimistic about a season this fall. College football, however, is in a very different boat.
The first FBS conference to postpone its fall football season was the MAC, which announced that decision this weekend. Now it appears that the Big Ten is also headed that way, with all but two of the conference’s athletic directors supporting that move. (Thanks, Iowa and Nebraska.) Now the conference is hoping to collaborate with the other Power Five conferences to issue a joint announcement postponing the entire season.
This is the latest problem that stems from college athletes not having any group representation, as there is little to no consistency across conferences about how to try to play safely this fall. And with many universities still planning to open up campuses to the broader student body, the likelihood of a team getting through a season without an outbreak appears particularly low.
Several players have expressed their interest in playing the 2020 season on social media recently, asking for some similar protections to those negotiated in the NFL for the fall. The list of requests includes health & safety protocol mandates, opt-out provisions, maintaining eligibility, and more. See here for the full statement via Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence’s Twitter account.
Of course, if college football is off the schedule in the fall, the NFL could step in and fill the void on Saturdays, a move that they are already considering. Who knows - maybe they’ll find a way to ratchet up a short-term expansion of the league’s TV deal to bring in extra revenue and alleviate the losses expected from not having fans in the stadiums.
In any case, don’t expect your alma mater to be fielding any fall sports this year.
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No word yet on whether attaching giant plastic googly eyes achieves the same result.