For football fans all around the nation, the return of the sport has revitalized everyone’s week. Saturdays are filled with electric college football games, and Sundays reserved for disappointment if you’re a Falcons or Giants fan. But as we sit down and turn the TVs on to spectate, we have to answer the question, is the return of football a smart idea?
The answer isn’t merely a yes or no. There are a lot of factors in play here. Obviously, it’s easy for fans to look from the outside and say, “Yea, this is no brainer to play, every other sport is doing it.” Sadly, what makes football unique, also makes it the most challenging sport to bring back to the table.
Let’s begin with the no brainer. The sheer size of a football roster makes having a bubble near impossible. For me, a bubble is the only way of 100% having a safe season, ensuring no outbreaks will happen inside a locker room. Look at the NBA and the UFC’s success, both had early success in the heart of the first wave due to heavy testing and once testing negative, eliminating the outside world. Whether it’s the NFL or college football, both are not set up for this method.
For this exact reason, we have seen plenty of games being canceled/postponed and players and coaching staff testing positive left and right. Most recently, to light up, the headlines have been the NFL and the Tennessee Titans. The Titans had to postpone their week four matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers due to 19 positive tests.
The problem only furthers once you trickle down to the collegiate level. The teams who have seen positive tests include teams ranging from Arizona and Notre Dame, down to Appalachian State and Georgia Southern.
I’ll leave fan attendance in a weird middle ground of being bad and good, only because each school and team has had a different approach. Some have decided to have no fan attendance to completely eliminate any outside infection risk, while others have opted for 25-50% capacity. Half capacity is way too much, and when fans aren’t wearing masks, I feel the risk isn’t worth the reward. On the other hand, having 25% capacity is an excellent way of getting some sort of authentic atmosphere and getting the fans back in the stadiums.
But to only look at the negative side would be biased. The return of football offers plenty of positives.
Football is a massive revenue boost at all levels. Whenever you look at how much the NCAA brings in annually(at least $1 Billion a year), football sits at the top of that list-making an average of $31.9 million a year. When you zoom in even further at the individual college level, some of these schools desperately need the revenue football brings to ensure they can run the university in a typical fashion. All schools have seen a decrease in revenue this semester due to lower class volume, and student fees being paid and football can allow the school to gain some of that money it truly needs.
Most people seem to forget about the mental health of athletes. Some need that release. The only way to get is by stepping on the field and playing football. During the US lockdown, which shut down sports indefinitely, every athlete struggled in their specific ways, and for them to finally return to practice and play the sport they love is essential.
Overall, I believe football coming back is a great idea. I think aspects of it could be done better, but I’m not the one calling the shots. For players, if they are against the return, that’s completely fine. Most teams are allowing players to opt-out with no consequence. But as fans, all we can do is sit back, enjoy the games, and remain confident the teams are doing the best they can to ensure everyone’s health.