Photo courtesy of Ohio State athletics
A major topic in the college football world currently is COVID-19 and how it will affect the 2020 college football season.
Many conferences, such as the Big Ten and the Pac-12, have postponed their seasons until the spring. While these conferences have postponed, the ACC, SEC, and several schools in conferences that have postponed remain determined to play their seasons.
Whether each conference has elected to postpone or not, these actions have brought about a major question in the college football world — how can schools play two football seasons in one calendar year? This is a very good question which does not have any clear-cut answers now.
To answer this question, one must evaluate the benefits and consequences of playing two seasons in one calendar year.
1. Player Safety
When weighing whether to postpone or not to postpone, one must look at both sides of the spectrum. First, one must evaluate the benefits of taking such action. Although there does not seem to be many benefits, one can argue that a benefit is that postponing protects the players.
With no clear end to the pandemic in sight, many conferences believe postponing protects their players’ health. While player safety is priority No. 1, this brings about the argument that players are more safe playing football than not due to resources around them. Inside their respective programs, players will have access to testing and protective equipment.
2. Fan Attendance
Another potential benefit of postponing the season is the possibility of having fans in the stands during contests. There are multiple reasons this is a benefit.
Fans bring an electric atmosphere to almost any college football stadium. This result of having fans brings in the factor of home-field advantage, hopefully helping their team to pull out a victory. More fans almost means more revenue since tickets for non-students are not free.
While both benefits seem plausible, they rely on one key thought — whether the COVID-19 pandemic will be under control and no longer be spreading as rapidly. Many colleges and conferences will rely on their medical professionals as well as other governmental officials to determine if it will be safe to resume play in the spring. This close monitoring of the pandemic also forces these professionals to evaluate the consequences of playing two seasons in a calendar year.
1. Injury Impact
The second aspect that one must look at when deciding to postpone or not to postpone is the consequences of doing so. As we know, football is a very physically grueling sport. Athletes are subjected to rigorous workouts, practices, and early-morning lifts that take a toll on their body.
This results in having back-to-back seasons being potentially dangerous. Many players play the whole season slightly banged up and use the offseason as recovery time. Without the offseason, these types of players would not have any time to recover, resulting in possibly furthering their injuries.
2. Scheduling Conflicts
While injures are an important issue, another important issue is the collision of several different sports schedules. At smaller schools, some facilities or fields are used to play multiple sports. This brings about the issue of colliding schedules and having to ensure that there is enough turnaround time for the facilities or playing surfaces.
Without proper turnaround time, a field may be unsuitable to play on , resulting in injury to players. Both come with the major consequence of player injury. Although both issues are major ones, there are smaller consequences to worry about as well.
These include less attendance due to other sports and less parking due to multiple events in a day. This arises with the problem of reduced revenue for certain sports. In turn, that could mean insufficient funding to continue to support that program.
Let us think — if a school went without football or football had less attendance, every sport down the line would hurt from that. This could result in certain sports being cut, as we have seen at many schools already. The last thing a school needs is to have to cut a sport due to funding. While it may seem plausible to postpone, one must evaluate the issues stated above and decide from there.
In conclusion, one must evaluate both sides of the spectrum to decide. Player safety is No. 1, according to the schools, and needs to be taken seriously in a process such as this. There are some good benefits and some risky consequences in postponing the season. Only time will tell what the best decision will be since we have many conferences doing different things.