NCAA Sports

Mark Madden: College sports need to tap out for fall season

Relaunching big-time professional sports while a pandemic rages seems ill-advised and is proving difficult. But pro athletes are adults, and get compensated appropriately.

It’s time to tap out with college sports, especially football.

That’s happening, slowly but surely.

The Big Ten has canceled nonconference games. Ohio State football has ceased voluntary workouts after multiple positive tests for covid-19. The Ivy League has canceled fall sports, confirming the intelligence level at those institutions. Football programs at Clemson and Texas have had cases well into the double digits among their players.

You can put pro athletes in a bubble, as the NBA and NHL will attempt.

But there’s no way to monitor college football players without quarantining the teams, which takes the “college” out of college football. That’s unless you rely on online courses and get college kids who normally rule campus to eschew parties, fun and sex.

That won’t be easy with pro athletes, and they get paid.

Remuneration is at the heart of this matter. How can the NCAA and its member institutions justify putting college kids at risk when the adults get all the money? (A scholarship plus room and board is not nearly a fair trade. Not in a multibillion-dollar industry.)

College football’s refusal to give up the ghost is exemplary of its structure. It’s called pimping. It’s not easy, but it’s what college football does.

The kids do all the work and take all the risk. The adults get all the money. That’s pimping.

It’s disgusting. It’s always been disgusting. Now it’s even more disgusting, because the pandemic heightens the risk but the adults still look for ways to ramrod this.

Logistically, the notion of playing college football is chaotically haphazard. Some campuses will have students, others won’t. Some programs will play, some won’t. As more Group of Five and FCS conferences cancel, the worse the Power Five conferences look. Will university presidents tolerate such horrible optics?

The notion of moving college football to spring is being mooted.

That means non-seniors will play two football seasons in 12 months, heightening the risk. Football would suck the life out of March Madness. Those expecting to be drafted by the NFL would opt out of the spring season. Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence will go first overall in 2021. Why would he play in the spring and put himself at risk physically?

Most prescient: Can anybody guarantee covid-19 will abate by spring?

Cancel the college football season. Wait ‘til next fall, and hope. Give every player another year of eligibility. God bless and good luck to whoever goes into the draft.

This isn’t said lightly. No college football means disaster for each school’s athletic program, especially sports that don’t produce revenue. Stanford just cut 11 teams of that ilk.

That’s a shame. But it doesn’t justify the risk, nor the bad optics.

If Power Five conferences play only within their league, Notre Dame won’t have a schedule. Notre Dame belongs to the ACC, but not for football. Their football program is independent by way of cashing in via their television deal.

ACC schools will reportedly play Notre Dame, but that would be foolish. Notre Dame holds itself above everybody and should reap what it sowed. Notre Dame being eligible for the playoff despite not being in a conference has always puzzled me.

If a conference competes exclusively in-house, it can use a common protocol regarding covid-19 for every program and every game. How effectively that protocol could be managed remains to be seen. It would also minimize travel.

Categories: Mark Madden Columns | Penn State | Sports

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