Ohio State’s trip out to Oregon for a game on Sept. 12 hasn’t been officially cancelled yet, but the latest report from Nicole Auerbach of The Athletic is that the Big Ten will soon be announcing it’s move to a conference-only schedule, putting a kibosh on the Buckeyes matchup with the Ducks.
The Big Ten is expected to announce today that it will go with a conference-only football schedule for this fall, a person with direct knowledge situation tells @TheAthleticCFB.— Nicole Auerbach (@NicoleAuerbach) July 9, 2020
While it seemed inevitable that we were going to lose some games from the 2020 college football season, if there even is a season at all, the cancellation of this game hits me a little harder.
The only Ohio State football games I’ve ever seen in-person have been at Ohio Stadium. I was planning on changing that in 2020. I was planning on heading out to Oregon in September for a week. The trip had multiple purposes, with the rematch of the first-ever College Football Playoff Championship Game being the highlight.
I traveled out to Oregon three times since 2008. My dad and my uncle live in southern Oregon, which has allowed me to see beautiful sights like Crater Lake and the Pacific coast, take a jet boat tour of the Rogue River, and most importantly allowed me to say that I have eaten at In-N-Out. If I didn’t live in Columbus, Oregon is where I would want to live.
The plan was to spend a few days in Portland with friends, then we would travel down to Eugene for the game, and I would finish off the trip by spending a few days in Medford with my dad and uncle. Then in the first couple of months of 2020, we started to hear about COVID-19 and by March events all around the world were starting to be cancelled. Even with the world being taken over by a pandemic, I was hopeful that we would make enough progress on slowing the spread of the virus that my trip out west in September would be spared.
It turns out I was way too optimistic with our country’s ability to deal with a pandemic. By April my tune had changed to where I didn’t believe that we would be able to even have college football, because at the time it was still up in the air whether students would even be allowed back on campus for in-person classes. If students weren’t allowed to come back to campus, how could we justify college football or any other fall sports being played?
In the middle of May, we had at least started to make some progress on slowing the spread of COVID-19. By that time I had a little bit of faith that there would at least be college football in the fall, but it was hard for me to see fans being allowed in the stands. Even if fans were allowed to attend games, I figured the number of fans allowed at games would only be a fraction of capacity. While it was disappointing that I wouldn’t be able to attend the September game in Eugene, at least I thought we would have college football to get us through the fall.
Now less than two months away from the scheduled start of the college football season, I’m back to where I was in April. I just can’t see how there safely can be a season. COVID-19 cases are skyrocketing in places like Florida, Texas, and Arizona, with younger people now becoming targets of the virus because of their refusal to wear masks, socially distance, and stay out of bars. The me of 10 years ago would probably be doing the same thing as they are doing now, but thankfully with age has come a little bit of intelligence.
@LtGovHusted: Today, we are launching the #IWantASeason Campaign. This is a way for #Ohio athletes to take to social media to tell their friends that “I am wearing a mask - I am practicing social distancing - I am washing my hands - and I’m doing it because I Want a Season.” pic.twitter.com/3B8kykDK7D— Governor Mike DeWine (@GovMikeDeWine) July 7, 2020
Ohio governor Mike DeWine and lieutenant governor Jon Husted are championing athletes to take to social media to spread the word about wearing masks to save their seasons, but it’s too little, too late. We could have been doing this for months but instead some out there were complaining about how wearing masks violated their rights. If we can’t even do something so simple as wear a mask in public, we have no business expecting student-athletes to risk contracting COVID-19 just because we need to be entertained in the fall.
Ohio State has paused all voluntary workouts on campus following the results of its most recent COVID-19 testing of student-athletes. School doesn’t release number of positive tests— Brett McMurphy (@Brett_McMurphy) July 8, 2020
This is where we are at now. Ohio State has taken all the precautions necessary to try and keep their student-athletes safe and it still hasn’t been enough. I’m not so naive to think that no Buckeyes would contract the virus. Those that are in their 20s aren’t going to be hit as hard as someone in their 70s or 80s who contracts the virus. But, how do we know that one of the younger people who contract the virus won’t be affected by the virus for the rest of their life? Why should their career possibly ended because we had to rush players back out on to the field?
The Ivy League announced yesterday that they wouldn’t hold any sports until 2021. It would be wise for the rest of the NCAA to follow suit. There are just too many risks right now. Maybe if it was basketball and not football, we could justify allowing sports, but that’s only because the roster sizes are so much smaller. With football, you are talking about over 100 people on a team after you add in coaches and other necessary staff. If one person gets the virus, it’s almost impossible to keep it from spreading to others.
Per Power Five head coach: Ten-game, Big Ten-only schedule likely in 2020.— Sean Callahan (@Sean_Callahan) July 8, 2020
Source: "Nothing has been decided. Nothing's official. But I would be surprised if it's not that.”
Here's more from @TomDienhart1 on where things might be headed:https://t.co/AFFWuag2sE
Even a conference-only schedule seems risky. What happens if a team is coming from an area that is a hot spot and heading to a game in an area where there is a relatively low number of cases? Are we just going to ignore all the guidance and still send them anyway? We are already seeing issues with the tournament the MLS is holding. Even though players are in a “bubble” there are still positive cases being found.
You might think I’m overreacting and we have to “learn to live with the virus” but right now I’m going to agree to disagree. It’d be different if we had any semblance of leadership to help guide us through the pandemic, but that isn’t anywhere close to the case now. It’s not even just in government where this is lacking. We have heard some concerning statements from players and coaches when it comes to COVID-19 and how it is being handled. Until we get truly serious about slowing the spread, we shouldn’t put the future of those playing the game at risk even more than they do when times are normal.
If we start taking our response to COVID-19 seriously, we will have college football again. It might not be as quickly as we want it, but it will be there in the future. There will be plenty of Ohio State road trips out there to take, and with the loaded schedule over the next decade the Buckeyes are putting together, we aren’t going to want to miss the opportunity to head to some places where we haven’t been before. Just be aware of your actions and be good to each other. It’s not the ultimate cure, but it certainly will go a long way in the fight.