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How likely is it that we’ll have college football this fall?

Ohio State making summer classes online only is the latest sign that we might not have college football in the fall

NCAA Football: Ohio State Spring Game Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

Ohio State announced Wednesday that all classes would be online through at least the summer term. This news is a blow to those who are hoping to see college football in the fall. The last day of final exams for this year’s summer term at Ohio State is scheduled for July 29th. The first day of the fall term is scheduled for August 25th.

It’s entirely possible that Ohio State allows students back on campus for the fall term, but that doesn’t mean college football will be played in the fall. And yes, while it’s possible college football games could be played with no fans in attendance, like the NCAA Tournament was planning to do before it was decided that the annual tournament was cancelled, there would still be a ton of risk if that option is chosen.

One cause of concern for many players and coaches is when student-athletes are able to return to campus, what kind of shape will they be in? Ohio State’s strength and conditioning coach Mickey Marotti has been giving players workout plans, but it’s not...quite the same as having Marotti screaming at them in the weight room. The loss of being around teammates in the weight room and during preseason practices might also hurt camaraderie.

Ohio State head coach Ryan Day did preach accountability for players while they are stuck at home, but even with that, it’s going to take time for players to get into shape and grasp the systems that the coaches are trying to run. Even if college football is able to be played in the fall, it might not be quite as crisp early in the season as we are used to. But, even sloppy football is better than no football at all.

As someone who was putting together plans to head out to Eugene in September to see the Buckeyes take on the Ducks, I’m slowly coming to grips with the possibility that that trip likely won’t happen. Even if games are going to be held without fans, how long will it be before a team doesn’t feel comfortable going to an area that was hit harder by the COVID-19 pandemic? Since the spread of the virus hasn’t been the same around the country, how is it decided which games are safe to play and which aren’t?

Even if college football games are deemed safe to be played without fans, there’s still a lot of people that need to be at the stadium to make sure these games go on. From players to coaches to referees to media to athletic trainers, by the time all those people are accounted for it could be hundreds of people. Say one of those people is asymptomatic, he could still be exposing the others to the virus, and could be sending them back home to potentially expose even more to it.

I’m not a doctor or scientist, and I don’t claim to be. As most of the country is under stay-at-home orders right now, it just seems impossible that events like college football games are going to be played. Ohio and a number of other states around the country have done a great job at working at flattening the curve, but we still have some hard months ahead of us. Even when the country is able to start working towards getting back to normal, big events like college football games are some of the last events that will be allowed to continue. The risk of putting so many people in such a confined space is hard to fathom at at time like this.

These last three weeks have been brutal without sports, but it’s only the tip of the iceberg. Already, we are seeing major events in the spring and summer being cancelled, and there are certainly more cancellations on the horizon. While it would be great to have football in the fall to help us as we try and work our way back to normalcy in the country, right now it just seems like it’s a highly irresponsible thing to do. Obviously things could change over the next few months, but I’ve already prepared myself for the likelihood that there will be no football in the fall, and you probably should too.