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Despite optimism, college football is still up in the air this year

NCAA president Mark Emmert revealed that he believes there is going to be college football in the fall, but is it realistic with how the fight against COVID-19 is trending around the country?

NCAA Football: Big Ten Championship-Ohio State vs Wisconsin Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

We are about two months away from the scheduled start of the college football season and it’s still unknown just how the season will look, or even if there will be a season. The only thing that seems to be certain is if there is college football this year, it definitely won’t look like a season that we have ever seen before.

Recently, NCAA president Mark Emmert spoke with Seth Davis of The Athletic, and it sounds like Emmert is very confident that there will be a college football season. It’s obvious that the NCAA will do everything they can to put a product on the field with as many in the stands as safely possible, since the revenue from college football supports so many other non-revenue sports at schools. The pinch is already being felt at some smaller schools like UConn and Cincinnati, which have already announced they are cutting a number of non-revenue sports.

Nearly two months ago, as we were just a couple weeks into Ohio’s “Stay-at-Home” order, I wasn’t too optimistic that there would be a college football season. My thoughts were that if there couldn’t be classes being held on campus, that it would be hard to justify allowing a college football season to happen. While it sounds like schools around the country are planning on allowing students back to campus in the fall, I’m still not sure we will see football.

If you asked me about a month ago if I thought there would be college football being played this fall, I would have thought there would be, but there would be limited or no fans in the stands. There was some progress being made in the fight against COVID-19 which allowed many of the sports leagues around the country to start putting together plans on returning to action. The fight against COVID-19 in this country wasn’t perfect, but there was signs the spread of the virus was being slowed.

Sadly, the last few weeks have destroyed any progress that we had made in our battle against COVID-19. The NBA, NHL, and MLS have announced plans to return to play, but COVID-19 is being discovered in more and more professional athletes, leaving some to opt out of the return due to family and long-term health concerns. It also doesn’t help that the NBA and MLS are planning to restart their seasons in Florida, which has seen an explosion in cases of late.

What is even more concerning about what we have seen lately when it comes to sports and COVID-19 is this week we saw a few cases on the PGA Tour, where it is extremely easy to social distance. Who’s to say that we are going to see even more athletes in contact sports test positive for COVID-19? If they can’t get things right in a sport where you are around a limited number of people, how are they going to make sure there isn’t spread in football, where every play is a car crash?

College football looked to be on the right track, with schools allowing athletes back on campus for voluntary workouts. Ohio State didn’t see any of their student-athletes test positive for COVID-19 upon return. The same can’t be said for other schools around the country. Clemson, Texas, and Kansas State are just a few of the school that has seen double-digit positive tests among their student-athletes.

I’m not claiming to be a scientist, I’m just looking at this from what I believe is a logical point of view. COVID-19 cases are surging in Texas, Florida, California, and other states around the country, with those effected with the latest spike being of younger people. While COVID-19 might not be as deadly to younger people as it is to the elderly, there’s still the possibility that it could do long-term damage to those it effects.

These last three months without sports have been brutal. Usually now we are winding down from the NBA and NHL playoffs, with our focus turning to baseball to get us through until football starts. As much as I’d love to see sports back in action, I don’t want to see them return if we don’t have a better handle on the spread of the virus. Right now we certainly can’t claim to be fighting a winning battle when it comes to COVID-19.

So what can we do? The easiest answer is to wear a mask. While wearing a mask isn’t going to magically make the virus disappear immediately, you give yourself a better shot at getting back to doing the things you love if you wear a mask. So many other major countries around the world have started to see their lives start trending back to normal because they are taking COVID-19 seriously and wearing a mask. In the United States, cases are rising again because some people think wearing a mask is an infringement on their rights. It’s not, it’s just one of the few proven tools we have to use against the spread of the virus.

While some people are using politics to support what they’ll feel should be done in this country when it comes to battling COVID-19, I’m not doing that. For me it just comes down to being a good person. Masks protect others from COVID-19 more than it does you, so why is it such a big problem? If we truly want to enjoy the things we love again, we just have to be better to each and care a little more.

I certainly hope I’m wrong and college football goes off without a hitch this year, but it’s hard to see that happening with the way things are trending. If we don’t change how we are dealing with this pandemic, it’s going to be completely irresponsible to let college football return in the fall — no matter how much the players tell you they are willing to sacrifice to play the game they love, and the game we love to watch. They are already putting their bodies on the line for our entertainment, the least we could do is take this pandemic a lot more seriously than we are right now.