Ok, I know what you’re probably thinking… Darren Rovell, Pat Forde and Stewart Mandel would probably jump into a pile of fire ants doused in petroleum if they read this headline.
But the good news is, their doom and gloom shut-down-the-universe mentality is far from popular when it comes to college football.
For months, these fear-driven writers have been telling you there’s absolutely no way sports return in 2020. Once talk began amongst many of the biggest sports leagues on returning to play, the goalposts moved to how fans would never attend games and that contests could only work in bubbles.
Newsflash: NASCAR has been back since the month of May and allowed fans at Talladega as soon as June, with 25,000 fans filling the grandstands at Bristol Motor Speedway in July as well.
Major League Baseball has quickly learned through trial and error what works and what doesn’t as far as operating without its own form of bubble. Sure, the Miami Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals made massive mistakes in not following protocol at the beginning of the season, but the league has already adapted on the fly and implemented new policies to keep a structure in place that limits the number of positive cases.
The top professional American tennis players on tour put together a successful Fourth of July tournament in Atlanta with fans at LifeTime Fitness. John Isner, Chris Eubanks, Taylor Fritz and a number of other talented players took the court to the delight of many, showing how sports can survive amidst a national crisis in a safe and responsible way.
And oh by the way, I happened to attend all 3 of those events. Before you ask, all 3 had mask suggestions or requirements, temperature checks and social distancing. (Yes, even the urinals were spaced out..)
Now, the MLB, NBA, NHL, WNBA, MLS and PGA Tour have joined NASCAR and the professional tennis players in returning to play after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States.
Just about every sport you could want is on your TV screen at the moment, yet one major obstacle still lies ahead. College football, one of the most tradition-rich and fan-followed sports in the country, is reportedly on the brink of cancellation for the Fall of 2020.
While I am no medical expert and I sure wish I could brag about having a degree from Harvard Medical School, I have put myself into numerous situations with COVID-19 this summer.
To tell you the truth, I’ve probably been to The Battery 10 times already for Braves games, the beach in Alabama, the Appalachian Mountains and many more spots where COVID-19 most certainly exists.
Now that goes without saying I am not an anti-masker and will practice social distancing and put on my mask to look out for others and protect myself. Sure, it may not be the most comfortable thing in the world, but it’s better than catching or spreading the virus.
However, I am a firm believer in this… The coronavirus most definitely exists and is out there in just about every part of the country.. Yet, I still think you can safely live your life close to normal by just wearing a mask and not getting too close to others.
This Summer hasn’t been anything close to what I had hoped it would be before March came around, but it sure beats sitting inside 24/7 and hiding from this virus without having any sort of fun.
So, that leads me to my next point.. College football can 100% happen this Fall.
We may not be able to fill Sanford Stadium to the brim for Baba O’Riley or at a packed out Bobby Dodd for the Ramblin’ Wreck to run out onto the field, but we can still safely put on a successful season.
What many of these writers that are preaching to you on Twitter haven’t experienced is a live sporting event in the COVID-19 era. Having been to Bristol Motor Speedway, a venue that normally seats 160,000 people, it seems very plausible to fill a venue such as Tennessee’s Neyland Stadium to 15-25% capacity this Fall.
With the first couple of rows blocked off with tarps to avoid getting too close to players, the urinals spaced out and the seats in every third row or so, this really shouldn’t be that hard to pull off.
If universities are worried about fans coming to games and catching COVID-19 before pursuing lawsuits, then make the fans sign a liability waiver to attend the games.
Oh and let’s get to that main talking point.. the games themselves.
As a D1 college football player told me in a text earlier today, the athletes are even safer on campus right now than they would be at home and of course, have the ability to opt out and keep their scholarship benefits if they do not feel comfortable playing.
For those currently staying on campus, several players have told me they feel the chances of catching COVID-19 are even higher if they’re sent home because many would go out to malls like Lenox in Buckhead and contract the virus.
Let me make it clear here… I totally understand any player choosing to opt out of the season for safety reasons and do not have any blame or shame to place. Yes, those who do decide to take the year off should retain their full scholarships, meal plans, housing privileges and everything else that comes with being a D1 athlete.
So that leads me to my final point.. If high school football and the NFL can play, then why can’t college? Nothing has significantly changed in terms of case numbers since a month ago and if anything, we are learning how to live with the virus.
If this entire crisis has taught me anything, it’s to live each day to the fullest and try to remain as optimistic as possible. Right now, we are able to enjoy just about any non-collegiate sport we want on the TV screen and things are finally starting to feel somewhat normal.
I feel for the collegiate athletes who could potentially lose a season they are willing to sign a waiver to play, due to the fear driven optics of many outside the field. However, I don’t think all hope is lost just yet.
If you’d like to see the college football season saved, I highly encourage you to spread the #IWantToPlay hashtag as much as possible and get the word out.
It seems our beloved sport may be on the brink of cancellation until Spring or perhaps even worse, for the full academic year.
To help prevent this looming catastrophe from happening, please spread the word.
Make the most of every day in a safe way and hopefully we can play.