Fall Football: Can the season be played?

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Fall Football: Can the season be played?

UGA President Jere W. Morehead speaks at UGA's Indoor Athletic Facility dedication on Feb. 14, 2017
Jere W. Morehead and Kirby Smart during the Indoor Athletic Facility dedication February 14, 2017

How likely is it that we will be allowed to make the trek back to Campus for our customary “Saturday in Athens” rituals when September rolls around? No one knows the answer right now, but leadership at one prominent University is readying for a resumption of college activities even as the Coronavirus has complicated the planning process.

Ultimately, one decision will determine the possibility of games this fall. If there are no students on Campus for Fall semester, there will be no football. It is that simple.

NCAA is extremely unlikely to endorse any plan that facilitates football practices and games while the member universities are operating remotely. Doing so would repudiate the athletes-are-students arguments that NCAA has made for years while defending its long-established amateurism rules in court.

 The Association has already lost its bid in Federal court to block compensation for the use of a player’s name, image, and likeness (NIL). Other litigants have filed legal action asking that college athletes be recognized as employees of their schools. Trial lawyers in those actions have to be salivating over the idea that NCAA might allow players to practice and compete while all but essential employees are barred from campus.

However, some university administrators are making plans for an August reopening. Purdue president Mitch Daniels, in a recent message to his community, said:

But in other respects, a place like Purdue may be in better position to resume its mission. Our campus community, a “city” of 50,000+ people, is highly unusual in its makeup. At least 80% of our population is made up of young people, say, 35 and under. All data to date tell us that the COVID-19 virus, while it transmits rapidly in this age group, poses close to zero lethal threat to them*.

Meanwhile, the virus has proven to be a serious danger to other, older demographic groups, especially those with underlying health problems. The roughly 20% of our Purdue community who are over 35 years old contains a significant number of people with diabetes, asthma, hypertension, and other ailments which together comprise a very high percentage of the fatal and most severe COVID-19 cases. 

We will consider new policies and practices that keep these groups separate, or minimize contact between them. Literally, our students pose a far greater danger to others than the virus poses to them*. We all have a role, and a responsibility, in ensuring the health of the Purdue community. 

A message from President Daniels regarding fall semester

*emphasis added

President Daniels is planning for a scenario that allows his University to resume its role while caring for its community members who are most vulnerable to the threat posed by the virus. His message is both practical and uplifting. Georgia’s Board of Regents and the Administration at UGA should consider emulating the plan suggested by Daniels.

Planning is a integral component of The Georgia Way.

Go Dawgs!

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Greg is closing in on 11 years writing about and photographing UGA sports. While often wrong and/or out of focus, it has been a long, strange trip full of fun and new friends.