August 3, 2020 by Tommy Johnson
College Football in the age of Covid, sounds like an oxymoron right? Sadly, that’s the reality that we find ourselves in these days. Football is a contact sport, so there’s NO Social Distancing. That said, camps are now open to teams throughout the country, the NCAA and everyone from coast-to-coast has a different opinion on what to do and how to go forward.
Here’s our reality, the pandemic is causing ripples throughout college sports, that’s just a fact. Launching a season with no real answers or plan for the level of risk to players, coaches and other personnel, the NCAA finds itself defending itself more and more these days.

The NCAA has no one to blame but them, selves. It’s the lack of an in depth, comprehensive plan that has led us to where we are. Given the number of teams, and revenue involved, having a plan for everyone is something College sports needs… sooner than later.
Aside the social impact to life and physical well-being, there’s also significant economic consequences if this is not properly handled. Nationwide, Universities have to realistically weigh how to run their Athletic Departments in the age of Covid. They have to weigh cutting certain sports altogether; or downsizing across-the board.

Another reality is that these football programs carry the weight of nine-figure athletic department budgets. For any University to do without them , even for just this one season, that could be catastrophic.
I don’t mean just to the fans, but to the other sports who rely on the revenues generated by Football. The reach includes both mean’s and women;’s sports, baseball, softball, gymnastics, soccer, etc., etc., … you get the picture.

Any way you slice it or dice it, this translate to job losses. Any negative outcome has the potential of having a devastating impact and ripple effect in certain communities that rely on all these these sports programs.  
Here’s the thing, players know! They  know so far what has been put out has been done in the name of optics and not to address the real-world consequences of what would happen if players nationwide begin to fall to Covid.  
Luckily, there’s somewhat of a road map. Major League baseball, the NBA and NHL have started their respective seasons. So there is a road map given each league has taken different approaches on how they are going about their seasons. For the NCAA, if any of these leagues implode, it gives a realistic and real-world reason to opt out of the season.
For now, the 2020 college football season is scheduled to happen despite the lack of a plan. That’s the reality players see. It’s an ethical, practical health concern.  That’s the main reason you see lack of continuity in statement from conferences and even cracks forming in the foundation of the system.
To add fuel to the fire, on Sunday, an unnamed group of Pac-12 players affiliated with the National Collegiate Players Association announced a list of demands in order for them to participate this season.

Some of the demands are more realistic in the current environment versus other more complicated demands. For example, demands like expanded medical insurance for players after their eligibility; versus “distribute 50% of each sport’s total conference revenue evenly among athletes in their respective sports.” That one is a bigger picture issue that has been bantered around for some time.
So what to do? The BIG 10 is contemplating how the 2020 season will look, even not having a one. The SEC, ACC  and BIG 12 are full speed ahead.
Whereas players in the Pac-12 are fighting for a bigger picture and may sit out the season. This could put a monkey-wrench in the Pac-12’s plans.
Aide the obvious issues with Covid-19, there’s an underlying issue that’s been talking about for years, maybe in whispers, maybe not. The BIG 5 have been mentioned in many, many stories to leave the NCAA. With what’s going on, and how this all plays out, that may be another reality that may happen sooner than later.
Only time will tell, the next ten-days will be a good measurement of what road College football will take. If the NCAA doesn’t start addressing ALL these issues, trying to play football during a pandemic is only the beginning of their problems.
Right now, playing the season in a bubble in the Antarctic may be the only safe alternative. Although that’s a logistical nightmare, and there are no stadiums there, but it’s a plan.
That tells you have complex this issue is. Let’s see what the tide brings in the next few days. Hopefully, everyone puts on their thinking caps to make this happen in safe and productive manner. That’s easier said than done.  


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