College football’s efforts to save the season amid the coronavirus pandemic have been a disaster. Several universities have already canceled the season, while others are trying to convince athletes to play out the schedule. An example of the latter comes via Colorado State University, where coaches and administrators allegedly tried to cover-up a COVID-19 breakout.
How severe would the punishment be if the allegations prove true? As athletes across the country speak out against their treatment on several levels, is there any way for the season to move forward safely?
Despite health risks, some colleges want players back on the field
Fall sports that assumed COVID-19 would be under control by now are scrambling to save their seasons. College football is one of those sports and their efforts to gain the trust of players and the public have been terrible.
Let’s cut to the chase: The reason the decision-makers are so desperate to play football this season is not because they think that sports can be a soothing public service during this stressful time in history. They’re doing it because they know how much money schools will lose by not conducting sports for people to watch on TV.
Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy has been involved in several problematic news stories over the past few months. He stated that the season must take place because “we need to continue and budget and run money through the state of Oklahoma,” according to Sports Illustrated.
The financial losses due to COVID-19 will be substantial. But for players, the cost is negligible because the NCAA has fought to keep them unpaid for decades. Since they’re not being paid for playing during a pandemic, leaders must prove they can take care of their athletes. Judging by Colorado State, most schools won’t be able to provide that level of security.
Colorado State University’s college football situation
Colorado State football hasn’t been relevant for a while. But this is not how they hoped to return to the spotlight. The Coloradoan said that anonymous players accused the school’s athletic department of playing down coronavirus symptoms. Allegedly, coaches are threatening players’ playing time if they test positive, further motivating them to lie about their health.
The spike in cases among student-athletes is inevitable, as is the response from the school that’s asking them to eschew safety. This may only be the tip of the iceberg at Colorado State. Players have also accused officials of “racial insensitivity and emotional and verbal abuse among coaches and athletic administrators,” reports The Washington Post. (Similar allegations were made at Iowa and Oklahoma State in the past few months.)
Keep in mind that Colorado State has only won more than eight games twice in the past 16 years. It’s not like they risk championship aspirations at for not playing this season. This is how craven they are with the people who rely on them for so much. If this is happening at a Mountain West school, just think of what’s going on at schools that bring in the most money.
The school is investigating these claims, reports ESPN. If they prove true, then the NCAA must throw the book at them. The only way college football happens soon is if precautions are performed perfectly. But it’s becoming more clear that playing games isn’t feasible in many parts of the country.
Some conferences have made the right decision for the wrong reasons
The lack of a college football commissioner or committee means each conference must make their own decision on how to proceed. The Pac-12 and Big Ten have pushed their seasons to the spring, reports ESPN. The SEC, ACC, and Big 12 are adamant about playing in the fall.
Unless all of these conferences get on the same page, then we’re in for the weirdest football season ever. How would the playoffs work? Would non-conference schedules get pushed back a year? Does the timing of the NFL draft affect these plans?
In the middle of these arguments are the players themselves, details The Undefeated. The athletes are using this opportunity to demand more of the system that makes billions of dollars off of their performances and gives them little in return. They deserve more. It could be time to make college football more equitable by treating players like humans and not commodities.
But looking at the response from some people to the idea that student-athletes should unionize, the coaches who want to play games no matter what the science says, and the general feeling in many parts of America that wearing a mask is too much to ask, the worst-case scenarios are the more likely ones. And regular students haven’t shown up on campus yet!
In this case, there is an ironic nature to the situation. This would all be so much easier if the players already had a union to set standards.