Those with a vested financial interest in college football being played this season are gradually but inevitably revealing themselves.
Some are rallying around the fact that players want to play as the basis for insisting that the season should proceed (as if the players should be the ones making the important decisions involving the propriety of proceeding in a pandemic). Others have pushed the notion that players will be safer playing football than otherwise running around their hometowns, breathing in as many coronavirus molecules as possible. Now there’s this, the most insidious and reckless of the arguments being advanced: Players should sign a liability waiver.
Danny Kannell of CBS Sports has pushed that issue. So has Booger McFarland of ESPN; however, it’s hard to tell whether Booger is raising it as a real option or simply as a “put up or shut up” move for the players clamoring to play.
Regardless, waivers shouldn’t be an option. Last week, the NCAA said they aren’t. As noted by Stewart Mandel of TheAthletic.com, two Senators have dubbed college football liability waivers “morally repugnant.”
As Dan Patrick noted during a Tuesday appearance on Today, liability is the main concern for college football. As it should be. As explained during Monday’s PFTOT, there’s a looming explosion of COVID-19 litigation that eventually could result in a standard that hinges less on proof of where the virus was caught and more on simply showing that a business or organization with significant resources created a mechanism for bringing people together without implementing appropriate safety measures. With the determination of appropriate safety measures something that will be determined by a judge and/or a jury after the fact, the risk of landing in the legal crosshairs will be significant, especially for any programs that aren’t as buttoned up as they should be.
In the end, the losses from one season of lost football could pale in comparison to the losses from years of dealing with COVID-19 cases in court.
Sign the waivers, and then the concerns go out the window. Testing? Testing schmesting. The schools would have a golden ticket that would insulate them from any financial consequences for the failure to exercise reasonable prudence in protecting players, coaches, and staff from catching the virus or passing it to family members.
They shouldn’t have that easy out. No business or organization in this current climate should. Once liability is waived, critical guardrails that force major institutions to prioritize safety disappear — allowing business decisions to be made without regard to whether individuals are being appropriately protected.