While the NFL’s training camps are kicking into high gear starting today, arguably the biggest football story going on right now is in college football—and, perhaps, whether or not there will even be college football. By now, several prominent conferences have already voted to cancel or postpone their football seasons, while others have issued measured statements proclaiming that they will be proceeding as normal, for now.
The most high-profile conference the postpone its season was the Big Ten, which includes such storied schools as Ohio State and Michigan. Their decision was considered to be highly influential, yet three of the other four Power 5 conferences did not follow in their footsteps.
Justin Fields, the starting quarterback for the Buckeyes, posted a petition at MoveOn.org that urges the Big Ten to reconsider its decision to unilaterally determine that they will not play football in the Fall, and to allow individual schools to decide whether or not to play (although the vast majority of schools voted not to play.
“We, the football players of the Big Ten, together with the fans and supporters of college football, request that the Big Ten Conference immediately reinstate the 2020 football season”, it reads. “Allow Big Ten players/teams to make their own choice as to whether they wish to play or opt out this fall season. Allow Big Ten players/teams who choose to opt out of playing a fall season to do so without penalty or repercussion”.
As of this writing, the petition has 212,000-plus of the 300,000 signatures that it is seeking. By the time this publishes, perhaps it will have already reached its desired target. Of course, when it reaches 300,000, nothing will actually happen. The Big Ten is under no obligation to consider the petition in any way.
The conference has gotten backlash even from its own schools in some cases, or at least those who run their social media pages, for their decision to postpone the season (which effectively means cancelling it, many would argue).
Many coaches and the players they have taught what to say have contended that players will actually be safer playing football than they would be otherwise, though this argument has always been specious, and would vary greatly from school to school. In case you haven’t seen some of the Tweets that Auburn players have been posting about the rampant noncompliance they see on their campus.
Auburn football players Anthony Schwartz and Kameron Stutts commenting on what campus/downtown look like now that the entire student body is back. Classes and fall camp both start on Monday. pic.twitter.com/prQbgfURaf
— Josh Vitale (@JoshVitale) August 15, 2020
College campuses do not have the resources that the NFL has to maintain clean environments. NFL teams also do not have an entire campus to contend with as their chief responsibility. The league also doesn’t have to monitor double-digit teams in dozens of conferences throughout the country in an effort to try to make sure everyone is being safe.
And these colleges are most likely going to be taking Covid-19 tests away from the general population, all across the country, when there are already shortages in areas of the country either for the tests themselves or for the reagents necessary to conduct them.