At some point this week, you’re likely to hear that college football will not be played in the fall of 2020 at all. The season will either be postponed to the spring of 2021 or canceled altogether,. The Mid-American Conference has already canceled its 2020 season, in part because of player safety concerns in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, and in part because of the financial hit brought about by the Power 5 conferences deciding not to play against teams outside of their own universe.
Phase One was the MAC. Now, Oklahoma has paused its training camp for a week due to changes in the Sooners’ schedule. Meetings between college football team doctors are revealing the true horror potential of playing football in a relatively unregulated fashion in the middle of a seemingly ever-escalating pandemic — everything from contagion clusters to lifelong heart damage. It’s no longer about logistical issues; now it’s about everything from liability to mortality.
Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID‑19) is an infectious disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). It was first identified in December 2019 in Wuhan, Hubei, China, and has resulted in an ongoing pandemic. The first confirmed case has been traced back to 17 November 2019 in Hubei. As of 10 August 2020, more than 19.8 million cases have been reported across 188 countries and territories, resulting in more than 731,000 deaths. More than 12.1 million people have recovered.Common symptoms include fever, cough, fatigue, shortness of breath, and loss of smell and taste. While the majority of cases result in mild symptoms, some progress to acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) possibly precipitated by cytokine storm, multi-organ failure, septic shock, and blood clots. The time from exposure to onset of symptoms is typically around five days, but may range from two to fourteen days.The virus is primarily spread between people in close proximity, most often via small droplets produced by coughing, sneezing, and talking. The droplets usually fall to the ground or onto surfaces rather than travelling through air over long distances. However, the transmission may also occur through smaller droplets that are able to stay suspended in the air for longer periods of time in enclosed spaces, as typical for airborne diseases. Less commonly, people may become infected by touching a contaminated surface and then touching their face. It is most contagious during the first three days after the onset of symptoms, although spread is possible before symptoms appear, and from people who do not show symptoms. The standard method of diagnosis is by real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (rRT-PCR) from a nasopharyngeal swab. Chest CT imaging may also be helpful for diagnosis in individuals where there is a high suspicion of infection based on symptoms and risk factors; however, guidelines do not recommend using CT imaging for routine screening.Recommended measures to prevent infection include frequent hand washing, maintaining physical distance from others (especially from those with symptoms), quarantine (especially for those with symptoms), covering coughs, and keeping unwashed hands away from the face. The use of cloth face coverings such as a scarf or a bandana has been recommended by health officials in public settings to minimise the risk of transmissions, with some authorities requiring their use. Health officials also stated that medical-grade face masks, such as N95 masks, should be used only by healthcare workers, first responders, and those who directly care for infected individuals.There are no vaccines nor specific antiviral treatments for COVID-19. Management involves the treatment of symptoms, supportive care, isolation, and experimental measures. The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the COVID‑19 outbreak a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC) on 30 January 2020 and a pandemic on 11 March 2020. Local transmission of the disease has occurred in most countries across all six WHO regions.
How COVID-19 will change college football forever
Change or Changing may refer to:
Liability and mortality are complex issues in the best of times and under the best of circumstances; they’re certainly more so in a time when the United States government has completely failed the American people in fighting this pandemic, and they’re even more so for “student-athletes” who have no real representation and are essentially at the mercy of their coaches and athletic directors. Those coaches and athletic directors are now stuck in an impossible fix — they can’t treat their players like employees, which would protect them in a more comprehensive fashion, and they can’t have a season under the current circumstances.
Thus, the coming storm.
How COVID-19 will change college football forever
Not that the players don’t want to play — several have made intelligent and impassioned statements about the desire to play in a (relatively) safe space. And despite the insistence of various… uh, voices that sports media is somehow rooting for the coronavirus pandemic to take the season down (no season, no jobs for most of us, so it doesn’t really track — not to mention that we in the media also have lives to protect), media support for these players has been fairly universal.
Some of those other voices have supported the players saying that they wanted to play. We’ll see how the support tracks when #WeWantToPlay becomes the slogan for a larger movement. One guess is that a lot of people went to bed on Sunday night thinking that they understood the initiative, only to wake up Monday morning to an awfully large surprise.
Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence, the most prominent player in what was to be a 2020 season, tweeted this out on Sunday night.
Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields did the same.
Using the #WEAREUNITED and #WEWANTTOPLAY hashtags, it would appear that players from the ACC, Big Ten, Pac-12, SEC, and Big 12 conference have aligned to reiterate their desire to play, and to ask for the following:
- Establish universal mandated health and safety procedures and protocols to protect college-athletes against COVID-19 among all conferences throughout the NCAA;
- Give players the opportunity to opt out and respect their decision;
- Guarantee eligibility whether a player chooses to play the season or not;
- (To) use our voices to establish open communication and trust between players and officials ; ultimately create a college football players association representative of all the players and conferences.
In the time it takes Lawrence to hit one of his receivers on a Bang-8 route, the discussion went from willingness to unionization and representation. How it came about was quite interesting. Per ESPN.com’s Dan Murphy, Stanford defensive lineman Dylan Boles received a direct message on Sunday evening from Clemson running back Darien Rencher. Rencher didn’t know Boles, but he wanted to talk about the Pac-12’s own unity movement.
“We got down to talking and agreed that both of our goals are aligned with each other,” Boles said. “We all want to play this year. We just want to make sure players have a say in this thing.”
An hour after that, several of the NCAA’s most prominent players, including Lawrence, Fields, Boles, Rencher, Alabama running back Najee Harris, Oklahoma State running back Chuba Hubbard, Oregon’s Penei Sewell, Johnny Johnson III, Jevon Holland and Kayvon Thibodeaux, Utah’s Nick Ford, Washington State’s Dallas Hobbs and Michigan’s Hunter Reynolds, had set a Zoom conference call to discuss further action.
On the call, the players agreed on their courses of action. Hobbs, a defensive lineman with graphic design experience, quickly put the message together.
“Social media is so prevalent right now that unifying the players is easier than it’s ever been,” Michigan’s Reynolds told ESPN’s Murphy. “You can connect with people in a matter of seconds, which makes it a lot easier to bounce ideas off each other and gauge how people are feeling in different parts of the country and really put a plan in place.”
“It was a long time coming,” Boles concluded. “It was inevitable. It was just a matter of how quick we could pull it off. We were racing against the clock. We all want to play; we just want to do it the right way.”
It is unknown what these requests will create in the long term; the postponement of a season punts some of these issues down the road for coaches and ADs. Some will become more pressing than ever. But the days of college football players performing without unity and a voice at the table are effectively over. There is no putting the genie back in the bottle for those in charge who want things to be the way they’ve always been for “student-athletes.” Dabo Swinney, Lawrence’s coach and the man who once said he’d rather quit the game than ever see his players get paid (a hypocritical stance to say the least when one is enjoying a 10-year, $93 million contract) will have to deal with it.
We imagine it’ll look something like this.
Does this mean that college players will have union representation in the ways professional athletes do? Hard to say. Complications run rampant when you’re dealing with a landscape this size. Does this mean that the players will insist in having their voices heard as never before? Now that they’ve realized their collective power, it’s inevitable. This will not be the last direct message from players who had never met before, or the last Zoom meeting between players, or the last time a player who knows how to use Photoshop puts together an inspired graphic that his colleagues can share with the world in instantaneous fashion.
The 2020 college football season may be a thing of the past, but so is the vice grip coaches and administrators had on the players. Change is coming, and it’ll be here long after every player listed in this article has gone to live NFL dreams.