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Big Ten Changes Direction, Will Play Football Season

Brenna Roberts ‘21

Sports Editor

On September 16, the Big Ten conference decided to reverse their original decision to not participate in their college football season. As COVID-19 cases popped up at schools like Michigan State, Wisconsin, and Maryland, it seemed that the Big Ten had made the smart and logical decision for its players, coaches, and staff. But all of a sudden, the conference’s presidents changed their minds. They decided to move forward with their season in what is predicted to be the worst months of the pandemic. Not only are October and November predicted to be the peak of COVID, but this a sport that is all about contact. How will they avoid an outbreak?

Big Ten football teams will do rapid daily testing. It seems that the conference’s presidents chose money over the safety of their students and faculty. What is even crazier is that the vote was unanimous. The plan is to play eight regular-season games in eight weeks that will begin the weekend of Oct. 23 and 24. The schedule has not been released yet, but the teams are set to play all six division opponents, and a conference championship game is set to take place on Dec. 19.

Revenue from these games will be a fraction of what they were before the pandemic especially now because the Big Ten cannot sell tickets. Only family members of players and coaches are allowed to attend. 

However, why did these presidents change their minds so suddenly? And why did all of them decide this together, unanimously? The Big Ten commissioner states that their main focus was student-athletes and letting them fulfill their dreams which includes competing at the highest level possible. Most of the coaches seem satisfied with the way the institutions handled things. They believe the presidents answered questions and took health and safety into consideration. 

How can they continue to do this if they allow a contact sport with multiple players on a field at a time? Why do Big Ten football players get rapid testing every day but public schools and people who desperately need tests cannot get them? Is it really about the student-athletes as the commissioner said? Or is it more about the money? You can make your own assumptions about that as you wish. I know that I personally am a big football fan. I prefer the NFL over college football but I know that it does not feel like fall without football. But when it comes to people’s safety, is football really so important?

Here is a list of the football conferences that have chosen to continue to play amongst the pandemic:

  • American Athletic Conference
  • Atlantic Coast Conference – (Notre Dame will also play a 10-game ACC schedule and be eligible for the ACC championship)
  • Big 12
  • Conference USA
  • Southeastern Conference
  • Sun Belt Conference
  • Big Ten