For a sports fan, 2020 has been a major disappointment. Baseball has been postponed at the professional level and cancelled at the college level (although, mad props to my Georgia Bulldogs for finishing #2 in the postseason poll). The Masters may not take place until October, and Wimbledon has been cancelled for the first time since World War II. And don’t forget that the Olympics have been moved to next year.
What’s a sports fan to do? Many of us have comforted ourselves with the thoughts of college football in the fall. But we shouldn’t get too excited, because college football isn’t likely to happen unless students can go back.
Schools already cancelled much of their spring practice sessions as well as their spring games, and as the coronavirus quarantine drags on, it seems increasingly likely that a delay or cancellation could take place.
Yahoo Sports talked to some collegiate athletic directors to survey their thoughts on what could be next, and they seem to agree that without opening campuses to students, allowing athletes to return isn’t much of a possibility.
“With school not in session, I don’t believe it is practical or proper to have intercollegiate athletics,” Clemson athletic director Dan Radakovich said. “Much like we are experiencing on campus right now.”
Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick predicted a “cascading of decisions” that will portend whether or not we see college football in the fall. He said that one of those has already happened at Notre Dame with the cancellation of commencement.
The next “mile markers,” according to Swarbrick, are if there will be summer school on campus and then whether or not there will be athletic and academic summer camps on campus. (Ohio State, for example, already moved in-person summer school classes to online this week.) “These will come in a logical sequence and help inform the next one,” he said.
Even if the possibility of no college football in 2020 grows, some athletic directors are preparing just in case the wishes of millions of college football fans come true. One of those is the University of Georgia’s Greg McGarity, who said:.
“We’re planning as if a football season is going to happen. If that doesn’t happen, that’s a whole another environment.”
College football is big business, and the top teams can rake in hundreds of millions of dollars a year. Many of these schools rely on football to keep their entire athletic budgets afloat. To use an example that’s familiar to me, the University of Georgia had total revenues of over $176 million in 2017-2018, and football was responsible for $129 million of it – and $84 million of that was profit.
Needless to say, a cancelled 2020 season would devastate the UGA athletic budget, and the same would hold true for the other collegiate athletic departments for whom football is a primary revenue driver.
Let’s be honest: it would be disappointing for all of us college football fans if the 2020 season didn’t happen, but it would be tragic for athletic departments all over the country.
We need to kick this coronavirus crisis so that college football will happen this year. Stay at home. Wash your hands. Be safe, and don’t do anything stupid. College football depends on it.