Husker Dan: Will There Be a College Football Season This Fall?

Categories: 2020 Football
Fans watch the pregame warmups.

It’s June and already the preseason college football magazines are appearing on shelves throughout the country.  And now that COVID 19 restrictions are being relaxed, amateur athletes from all over the nation have been resuming workouts at their respective colleges, universities and high schools.  Yes, social distancing measures are still being required, but the idea of college football games taking place this fall seems a bit more realistic.

But the question remains as to whether there actually will be a season and if so, what is it going to look like? At least four options are being considered.
The entire schedule will be canceled.
The season will be played, but limited to just conference games.
OPTION 3 a, b and c 
a.)  College football will return with full schedules, but with no fans allowed.
b.)  Only families of the players will be allowed to attend.
c.)  Crowd sizes will be limited to 50% of the stadium’s capacity.
There will be a full season with a full capacity of fans.
Let’s take a close look at each option.
OPTION 1 (No season)
If the college football season is canceled this fall, the entire landscape of college athletics will be changed forever.  In about 99% of the universities, football is the cash cow that supports the other athletic programs.  Take away the flow of cash and college athletics will not be able to exist in its current form.  To me, this option is the least realistic of them all.
OPTION 2 (Conference games only)
The big question is, what will happen to teams like South Dakota State, Central Michigan-teams on Nebraska’s non-conference schedule this fall?  Schools like those depend on the money they get for playing in venues like Memorial Stadium.  And teams like Nebraska want to play these games at home for the extra revenue and maybe for a chance to win a few more games.  Nebraska can ill afford to lose the millions of dollars these home games generate.   (This doesn’t include the millions of dollars in revenue that businesses in the city of Lincoln will get and the tax revenue that will flow into the Nebraska state treasury.)  While Option 2 may happen, I don’t think it would be a wise move for college football.
OPTION 3 (a. b and c)  (Limit the crowds)
On the question of who will be allowed to enter the stadiums each Saturday:  It’s hard to imagine any scenario in which only a select group of fans will be able to attend.
In the case of Nebraska, season ticket holders had to have their money into the University back in March.  How does Nebraska, or any other Power Five conference member tell its fans that they can’t come to the games?  And who is going to make that decision?  And if season ticket holders and major donors aren’t allowed to attend, what do you think is going to happen to the money they’ve donated?  Do you think they’ll say, “Well, it’s okay if I can’t attend games.  You can just keep my money.”  Of course not.  They’re going to demand refunds.  Universities can’t afford to lose their donors or their season ticket holders.  There is no way (IMHO) that blocking fans from attending games is ever going to work.  There is simply too much money at stake.
OPTION 4 (The season goes on as planned)
There are those who will insist this option is not possible-that the spread of the virus is too risky and social distancing is going to be absolutely critical in containing the spread of the virus.
I’m not a doctor or a scientist or even a healthcare provider, but I think there might be a way for the season to go on this fall as normal as possible if some precautions are taken.
1.)  On game days, all fans who wish to enter their team’s stadium will have to have their temperatures taken before they are admitted.  (This can be done in a matter of seconds.)  All players, coaches trainers etc. will also have to pass a pre-game checklist before they are allowed onto the field.
2.)  Any one who has a fever will not be allowed into the stadium. Period.
3.)  Under no circumstances will any fan who passes the fever check be allowed to leave and return later.
4.)  Fans likely will be required to wear masks to get into the stadiums.  (Note:  Fans are not going to like wearing masks especially when the weather is hot and muggy in September.)
5.)  Fans who aren’t feeling well should self-quarantine and stay at home!
Is Option 4 a guarantee that no one will contract the COVID 19 virus at a college football game this fall?  No.  People will continue to get the disease from a variety of sources, but if the above precautions are taken, fans should feel a bit better about the risk they are taking.
Here are some facts football fans in the state of Nebraska should consider before deciding to go to any football venue this fall.
As of June 8, the state of Nebraska stands in the Top Ten of confirmed cases of the COVID 19 (based on per capita ) with 15,634 cases and 188 deaths.  The number of deaths is terrible-even the loss of one life is bad.  But college football fans need to weigh the risks before they decide to attend games this fall.
And in the state of Nebraska, here are some data for your consideration:
The chances of dying from the COVID 19 virus:
.000098  (That’s .0098%)
That’s based on dividing the number of COVID 19 deaths (188) by the state’s population of  1.9 million.
The chances of contracting COVID 19 in the state of Nebraska:
.0082  (That’s .8%)
That’s based on dividing the number of COVID 19 cases (15,634) by the state’s population of 1.9 million.
And the chances of any one dying from the disease after testing positive for COVID 19:
 .012  (1.2%)
That’s based on dividing the number of COVID 19 deaths (188) by the total number of confirmed cases (15,634).
(It must be noted that the COVID 19 death rates increase due to co-morbidity factors like diabetes, obesity, heart and lung disease, cancer and age.  If people have any of these risk factors, they probably should not attend any public venues.)
The protests that have been taking place in our nation the past few days may prove to have an unintended consequence.
As we’ve seen, social distancing rules have not been enforced during the protests. Politicians just days before were quick to arrest and even jail law abiding citizens for not adhering to their (state and local government) social distancing rules.
The point of this isn’t to make a political statement, but IF there are no spikes in COVID 19 cases over the next few weeks, it may make a case for normalcy being restored sooner than later.  And that could be great news for all college football fans.
You may contact the writer at [email protected].