Writers across the nation struggle with the fact that all their work may be all for naught. Athletes worry their off-season efforts and senior years may be futile. And fans have fleeting hope whether some football or none will be played in the fall.
This pandemic has emotions heightened, tempers flaring, and heartache growing, yet we all still want the season to happen. Is it fair to hope for football? Is it fair to consider safety over happiness? While we all struggle to find our truth during this crisis, leadership is the most glaring hole in the big picture.
Some suggest Mark Emmert, NCAA President, should be under fire for a lack of decision making and his incorrect statements when referring to the FCS. Since no blanket regulations or rules have been made on the crisis conferences have been forced into the fire. Conferences have come under fire for canceling and for vowing to play in the fall. The Ivy League, Patriot League, MEAC, SWAC, NEC, and CAA* have formally canceled their seasons. * for the CAA since individual members have chosen to seek opportunities outside of the conference. Howard is one of the few schools to cancel their season without the conference being canceled.
*Edit: Big Sky has moved to spring possibilities and Pioneer League canceled.
Each week holds a new host of headlines with the most amount of breaking news since I can remember. The uncertainty of the season poses a great threat to the quality of the football season. If starters are healthy one week and quarantined the next two how can any team expect any degree of consistency? The newest guidance from the NCAA basically telling conferences to fend for themselves is the latest blow to the integrity of the season. Senior athletes this year will be severely robbed of a decent season since not all of them will have the money, time, or ability to come back for another year just for fall ball.
My hot take is the greatest equalizer and the most fair decision is to cancel the championships for this year, but allow those who have not canceled to play if they want to. While not all schools and players are affected to the same degree as their neighbor, all of those involved are suffering the pains that this pandemic has brought to the extracurricular side of college life. College and athletics memories are based on memories of experiences and adventure. There is only so much adventure to be had in this bubble and masked lifestyle we are confined to. Across the board, each college student is being robbed of their chances to create memories.
If there is to be football in the fall let it be football for the love of the game. Let those who can safely accept the terms and conditions of this pandemic play their hearts out on a field they only have access to for four years. Allow these students to get a chance to shine the side of them that brought them to school in the first place for one last time. Not everyone may be able to participate due to conference bureaucracy, health risks, or other limiting factors, but allow the willing ones left to choose for themselves if they want to play for the love of the game. It is selfish, but if we do not persevere, what is left?
My name is Ben Schleiger and I’m your representative for the Big Sky Conference. I have done work for multiple newspapers and sports blogs including The Johnstown Breeze, The University of Northern Colorado Mirror, and Mile High Maniac. I am a proud alumnus of the University of Northern Colorado with a degree in Psychology and a minor in Political Science. In my free time, I like watching sports, playing video games, and trying new foods.