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Amid Pandemic And Protests, College Football As We Know It Is Over

Gabriel C. Pérez
Members of the UT Austin football team in 2016. Big 12 Conference leaders meet Tuesday to decide whether 2020 season football games will go forward.

From Texas Standard:

The college football season is supposed to begin in less than three weeks. But many universities still haven't decided how or if they'll move forward because of the pandemic. Not having a season could protect the health of players and fans, but it could also mean loss of revenue that's vital to college athletic departments.

Daron Roberts, founding director of the Center for Sports Leadership and Innovation at the University of Texas at Austin told Texas Standard that even if there is a 2020 college football season, it won't look anything like seasons that have come before.

"This is the end of college football as we know it," Roberts said.

That's because amid the pandemic and the protests against racism and police violence toward Black Americans, players have begun to demand more say in how the season proceeds. Many want to play this fall. But they also want long-term changes to how athletic departments operate.

"Student athletes feel empowered to have a seat at the table," Roberts said.

College players can now profit from their name, image and likeness – a much-debated change to NCAA rules that was made last year. Now, some want to form a union to protect their interests.

Even if players who want to play get their way, universities would still have to figure out how to make that happen safely. Roberts said athletic departments have been looking at limiting stadium capacity and requiring health screenings. But recent outbreaks among Major League Baseball teams could be warning signs that even a socially distant 2020 football season might not be safe.

"I think that they were probably more optimistic that the country would be in a better position," Roberts said

Big 12 Conference commissioners meet Tuesday to discuss the fall season, and there are rumors that the Big Ten Conference might cancel its games.

Web story by Caroline Covington.

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