Every professional and college sport faces challenges in 2020 over safety concerns. However, it has also not helped that many organizations have stumbled out of the gate when trying to implement viable changes to make sports safe for players as they tried to salvage seasons. Back in March and April, the NFL and NCAA Division 1 football seasons in the fall seemed relatively safe, perhaps with a delayed start. With each passing day, however, that hope seems to fade further into the ether.
Now Yahoo Sports is telling its readers, college football may not happen:
“Take a deep breath, and begin to get comfortable with the idea there’s virtually no chance of playing college football in any recognizable form this fall. Start digesting the notion that the next time we see a college football game could be in more than 13 months, as the sport remains the most unlikely of all the major sports to execute a successful return. Consider any semblance of college football prior to Week Zero of 2021 as a bonus, an improbable gift from the football gods.”
The Ivy League and other smaller divisions canceled their seasons already. Getting D1 football cranked on large college campuses seems unlikely, with students likely facing some online classes and remote learning. In light of outbreaks on campuses all over the country in recent weeks, the push to shut football down is getting stronger. Experts believe that once one of the major divisions calls it, the cards’ house will come tumbling down.
Is the NFL next?
The NFL is trying to move forward, but it is running into a stubborn virus and the undeniable fact that football involves players colliding with each other on every play. With training camp scheduled to begin, the players still do not know if they are playing preseason games and whether practices will be safe.
For example, several NFL players were publicly upset over the league’s choice to shorten an “acclimation period” in camp in favor of more preseason games – players want zero preseason games, owners wish for two.
Player safety concerns voiced on social media and elsewhere by stars Pat Mahomes, Drew Brees, JJ Watts, and others include:
- Frequency of testing
- What happens if player sits out the season
- Mandates of equipment that could reduce the potential spread of the virus
Perhaps equally important to owners is that players receive guaranteed money in their contract if they play just one regular-season game. The other issue is trying to account for the revenue lost by holding games in empty stadiums. Money and lost revenue, of course, were two of the major sticking points that held up baseball.
Solutions are elusive
The difficulty that other sports have had does not seem to provide much guidance for football players and officials. Nevertheless, as Yahoo Sports points out in a different article: something needs to happen fast and be done right.
“The NFL and its owners have created a magnificent product, and they’re not foolish people. But what’s worked for other crises — simply hammering forward with the overwhelming force that comes from being an American institution — won’t work here. The Coronavirus has stacked the line. Like it or not, the owners are going to need to script a more sophisticated game plan. And they’re going to have to do it fast.”