Will college football come back?
Now that the NFL Draft is in the books, and we’ll still not entirely certain when, or even if, basketball, hockey, and baseball will come back, it’s time to turn our attention once again to the question foremost in the minds of most college sports fans: will college football come back in the fall?
The answer is no clearer than it was a week ago. Spring football is already a wash. Some states have begun to ease restrictions, at least cracking the door open for a return of football in the fall. But most around the sport remain cautious and uncertain, although everyone is clear that football needs to come back in some form. The threshold question remains whether college campuses will be open in the fall. If students cannot return to campus, then student-athletes cannot return to the field.
Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby is optimistic that football will return on schedule, but also skeptical that we’ll get through the entire season without interruption. If the coronavirus comes back the way the cold and flu do in late fall, it’s going to have a huge impact on the college football post-season.
Closer to home, K-State athletic director Gene Taylor offered various scenarios for the college football season. The weirdest scenario is absolutely the one where the start of the season is moved to January and teams play through March. Even Taylor found the notion crazy, although scheduling SEC or Pac-12 teams for non-conference games played in Manhattan, Kansas in January could provide a distinct home field advantage.
We’ve sort of been here before though. The combination of World War I and the Spanish Flu pandemic nearly cancelled the 1918 season, with many schools not fielding a team and others playing a severely truncated season. The sport—and college athletics generally—survived that storm, and will probably survive this one.
As we all struggle to adapt to relative isolation, mental health remains a key priority for everyone, including student-athletes. Kim Gross, a former college rower and current academic advisor for the USC Trojans, joined Lisa Rubin, assistant professor of student service at K-State, and Anne Weese, K-State’s Director of Mental Wellness to write an article, Student-Athletes and Suicide Prevention, which recently appeared in the Journal of Issues in Intercollegiate Athletics.