As of now, there is no reason why college football should not happen for the 2020 season. The coronavirus pandemic has impacted society in a lot of ways over the last several months. Professional and college sports leagues were postponed or canceled after the virus reached the United States back in March. But now leagues are starting up again.
And a question a lot of people are asking, is will there be college football this fall?
Based on what I have found, the 2020 college football season should take place if the stats remain somewhat consistent.
The key factor to look at when coming to this conclusion is the number of hospitalizations and deaths for college-age students. I understand most people want to skip this step, even though it is the most important piece of evidence to analyze.
As of June 24, 2020, for individuals in the 18-29 age bracket, there have been 339,125 confirmed Covid-19 cases reported by the CDC since January 21, 2020. Out of the 339,125 cases, there has been a total of 395 total Covid-19 deaths within that age bracket. Therefore if an individual that falls in that category tests positive for the coronavirus, there is a 0.116% chance of them dying from the coronavirus. And that is just for people that have been tested.
The amount of asymptotic individuals that have yet to be tested lowers that percentage even further. But to give some perspective, if the percentage holds where it is currently, there is a higher likelihood that a player dies from suicide, a drug overdose, or even an automobile accident compared to dying from the coronavirus.
In addition, the data above does not separate the cases of individuals with underlying health conditions from the numbers. Division I athletes, on average, are in much better physical shape than the majority of their peers in that same age bracket. And for most universities, Division I college athletes have access to high-quality medical staff, equipment, and testing capabilities. The argument could be made they are safer on campus than they are back home.
When it comes to hospitalization rates, the data is not as widely available compared to overall Covid-19 positive cases, and death counts. But the latest CDC numbers show that on a cumulative rate for the 18-29 age bracket, there are only 30 hospitalizations for every 100,000 (0.03%) people in the United States.
Over the last couple of weeks, college players have been returning to campus, and there have been players that tested positive for the coronavirus. But zero players have been hospitalized since they have started coming back to universities all across the country. I have yet to see a report of a player being hospitalized or even showing severe symptoms. If you find a report stating otherwise, please send it my way. So why with still two months before the season starts, are we panicking that we should not have a season?
And I’ve heard people ask, “Well, what about the coaches?” There are far fewer coaches than players.
Coaches can reduce their risk by wearing a mask, abiding by social distancing protocols, and sitting in the booth to observe practices and games. I understand this is not the usual way of doing things, but it will not take a ton of work to keep the coaches away from the players. They do not need to come in contact with the players in order for a season to take place.
Technology has advanced far enough to where we can make this work. At worst, from a communication standpoint, we can have the coaches in the booth relay messages to Graduate Assistants (personnel that typically fall into the 18-29 age bracket as well). Or coaches can call down to the field to talk to players when they are on the sidelines. Granted, we might need to teach the athletes how to use the phones properly (J.T. Shrout).
I am by no means saying that an individual should be forced to play. If a player wants to or should sit out the season, they should have that option.
Is the risk worth the reward?
I believe many players believe it is. If universities want to cancel their 2020 season, go right ahead. But as of now, looking at the current data, canceling the season if the percentages stay the same is an ignorant move. The SEC is going to do whatever it takes to make this season happen. And if football only happens in the south, I think most people are fine with that. We all know a team from that region of the country is winning the National Championship anyway.
If Hugh Freeze can coach from a hospital bed in 2019, we can make a college football season happen in 2020.