Will We Have College Football This Fall?
By: Mark Sturgis
I genuinely believe this is one of the top questions on the minds of many Southerners. Most people have given up six weeks of their lives as our country has battled CoVid 19, and in all honesty, I’m surprised we have gotten this much time. As things begin to reopen, people are clamoring for normalcy in their lives, and that includes College Football for many.
Yes, we will have football this fall. Major Universities like South Carolina, Alabama and Ole Miss have already announced they will have students return this fall for classes. To me, that was the last hurdle to get over. The NCAA and powers that be would have never allowed this season to take place without students being back on campus.
Imagine my best Jack Nicholson impersonation here… One of the main reasons College Football will be played this fall is simply “we need College Football this fall”. And we need College Football for a multitude of reasons; some personal, some financial, and some varied. That does not mean any are more important than the others, but a few of my thoughts may surprise you.
On the personal side, we need College Football this fall for a variety of mental health issues. The suicide rate is currently higher than normal, and more people are reporting depression issues the longer this pandemic situation continues. If there is no College Football this fall, I fully expect these numbers will become even worse. Fan is short for “fanatic”, and people will hurt and find other ways to lash out.
That was the less important reality to soften you up for the hardest, yet easiest argument to make. The financial ramifications of not playing a college football season in 2020 will damage athletic departments for years to come. Football carries so many of the other sports. Every athlete on every campus works hard, but college athletics are also classified as “Revenue” and “Non-Revenue Sports”. If the main “Revenue” sport at many schools can not be played, where will the money come from to support the other teams?
The University of Akron announced ten days ago the university will be eliminating six of their eleven “schools” on campus, and “restructuring” their academic and athletic departments due to a 70-million-dollar deficit. Akron is keeping the five schools they are known best for, but that is also unfair to the affected students. But can’t you just hear your Grandfather telling you “life isn’t fair”. The University of Akron was forced to make a financial decision based on what it best for them, do not think other school won’t be doing the same.
As the father of a daughter, I understand the reasons for Title IX, but if College Football is not played this fall, this clause may even have to be lifted. If you don’t know, Title IX that was passed in 1972 states that; “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any educational program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”
In college athletics, that means each school must maintain the same number of women on athletic scholarship as men. College Football has allowed these costs to be covered at many major universities, but without football, can the same expectations be maintained? I’m sure the administrators at Akron thought they would never be forced in to making the recent decision they have, but in a smart business decision, Akron kept the parts of the University that are best for them.
Do I have an answer for what the 2020 College Football season will look like, no I don’t? Do I think there should be fans in attendance, I am not qualified to provide that answer? However, just the television money would be enough to possibly plug the dam in the short term.
I am a true believer in the phrase “the good Lord put the eyes in the front of your head so you can look forward”. In today’s climate, we need things to look forward to. Weddings, vacations, the Holidays, and yes, even College Football.