College football faces even bigger hurdles than the NFL for 2020

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Of all the major sports that are trying to figure out how to coexist with the coronavirus pandemic, college football could be the most vulnerable to a full-season cancellation.

There are too many major programs. Too many huge stadiums in otherwise non-huge towns. Too little flexibility when it comes to shifting around schedules. Too many questions and concerns regarding the overlap between the reality of athlete and the quasi-fiction of student.

Meanwhile, the entire industry is a subset of a much bigger industry that has much bigger challenges than figuring out how to proceed with sporting events.

Consider this: The University of Oklahoma recently has suspended all in-person events through July 31, including all camps and athletic competitions. That deadline nearly overlaps with the launch of football training camp, in early August.

If, in early April, Oklahoma realizes that nothing should be happening through July and if, as most agree, the situation will continue to get worse before it gets better, significant decisions could be coming soon for major colleges that may be more than willing to press pause on athletics for a small fraction of the student body while focusing on the broader mission of educating thousands.

There are very real business reasons for figuring out how to play (and televise) college football, but the endless effort to make college football more about college than football will make it harder for the colleges to justify the kind of overt and blatant efforts to save the season in which pro sports are engaged. Indeed, if college football hopes to continue to perpetrate the notion that it represents amateur athletics, the NCAA and its member schools will have no choice but to scrap the season and focus on the semester.

Unless and until college football is willing to abandon the ruse that it’s not a billion-dollar cash machine aimed at financing large salaries for coaches and administrators and everyone but the players, college football can’t credibly behave like the NFL can and will as the NFL inevitably tries to figure out how to play its games. Of course, the NFL ultimately may not be able to figure out how to play its games, either, but the essence of pro sports justifies trying. For supposedly amateur sports, it will be difficult to do much along the lines of plotting and planning alternatives without necessarily admitting that there’s nothing amateurish about it.

9 responses to “College football faces even bigger hurdles than the NFL for 2020

  1. news flash—there may not be enough people left to fill too many college stadia unless there is a national coherent policy is established to at least try to contain the spread of the pandemic;

  2. I work for a state university that has a major research hospital. Our administration is contingency planning for online-only coursework to continue during the fall semester because of what the medical researchers are telling them.

  3. While the U of O may have cancelled everything until July 31st, they are just as capable of reinstating things before July 31st. It’s good to be out in front of things but as we have seen over the past 4/5 weeks, things can change rather quickly. Let’s pray it turns for the better.

  4. I see some normalcy by Fall but not things like packed bleachers or crowded spaces at events

  5. Another Florio diatribe against his favorite punching bag: College Football..

    The tradition and tapestry MUST go on! Falls without rich college football traditions will represent a life not worth living. Let’s yolo it

  6. Here’s something to think about. If there’s no college season, do seniors get another year of eligibility? If so, shouldn’t everybody since there are underclassmen that have been waiting for somebody ahead of them to leave the depth chart so they can finally play? What about high school seniors that are picking a college based on when they might be able to see playing time, which could be a huge question mark ?

    A lot of downstream repercussions regardless of the decision made.

  7. College football has the luxury of a 13-14 week season at most (including a bye) followed by unnecessary delays for bowl games. Seems they could start in November (or around that time) & easily fulfill a full season & (crappy & delayed) bowl season. Yes, adjustments for many aspects would be needed & teams playing outdoors would get an uptick in winter weather action, but it would seem to be very doable, while still finishing by late Feb/early March (despite the NFL’s likely lack of support in such an idea).

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