North Texas Daily

COLUMN: Showing disdain for college football players during 2020 season is disrespectful

COLUMN: Showing disdain for college football players during 2020 season is disrespectful

COLUMN: Showing disdain for college football players during 2020 season is disrespectful
October 02
13:22 2020

College football fans and students need to do a better job of supporting student-athletes during a global pandemic.

The 2020 college football season brings a lot of discussion and debate on how much power the student-athletes have over the NCAA, its conferences and individual athletic departments. There’s one thing for sure to take into account after the Power 5 football conferences chose to play a football season, the players were willing to take on any task to play a full season.

Football players and other student-athletes are sacrificing their time to play their seasons by abstaining in activities that non-athletes do every single day, including going out to eat, hanging out with a group of friends or family and minimizing public settings with large groups of people.

Posts of hateful comments and statements on social media by students and fans to athletes attempting to play this season show a lack of respect, consideration and human decency. Think about it, the athletes are willing to make sacrifices for months just to play and return to some sense of normalcy for fans.

The posts speculating and accusing football players and their programs of “wanting to see people get sick” or “not caring about others health” is ridiculous. Until you’ve walked in the athletes’ shoes, we will never understand what the athletes face this season.

As a college football fan and a student, it’s time to reserve our judgment and come together on supporting student-athletes sacrificing their activities in getting us back to the college game day environment. Where I do give them credit is when it was their decision alone in wanting to play. They are still students too and share some of the same goals of safety just like anyone else within their respective campuses.

In the five months without sports during the peak of the COVID-19 crisis, I had questions about the fate of college football.

Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence and Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields voiced their opinions during the summer on why playing is a smart idea. The two proposed ideas for living in a bubble-like environment, much like the NBA in Orlando, Florida. Key takeaways Fields and Lawrence mentioned were the teams being safer living in dormitories or apartments together if a season did occur, plus minimizing outside contact and limiting in-person classes on campuses.

Also in their proposal, if a season didn’t occur the student-athletes would be at a larger risk. The athletes said their peers and teammates might venture off to parties or group hangouts, further spreading the virus. Lawrence and Fields favored a cloistered setting if it meant playing a college football season.

There is speculation as to why the conferences and its officials voted to play. The notion that a bunch of greedy and out-of-touch people forced football players to play is untrue. It is the conference’s job to make sure they represent the well-being of each school and their athletes, so it is not like they did it just for the money.

Money was an important factor in their decision making, but the NCAA and conference officials don’t operate in that manner. The officials would lose their job if they didn’t listen to what each individual football program and its athletes had to say on the situation. Keep in mind the conferences and schools allowed athletes, coaches and staff members the luxury of opting out in 2020 if safety and health reasons were a concern.

Let’s pretend the majority of the North Texas football team did opt out of the season, they could still field a team and bring in numerous walk-on athletes to play. There are plenty of athletes out there who would kill to earn an opportunity to play Division I football.

The Big 12, Conference USA and SEC conferences enforced mandatory testing for each football program as an agreement to play in the fall. The conferences implemented a three test per week protocol among the football programs and its staff members to ensure their safety before games took place on Saturdays.

The Big Ten and Pac-12 conferences were the two Power 5 conferences who originally voted not to play during the conference meetings from August.

Parents of football players in the Big Ten conference threatened to sue to the conference and demonstrated protests outside the Big Ten headquarters. The Big Ten would later announce the decision to begin competition in October and the Pac-12 conference followed in the same direction days later. All Power 5 conferences are set to play in the fall as of Week 5 in the college football season.

In a time of a global pandemic and social unrest, the most helpful thing we can do as students and fans is to support the student-athletes in attempting to play their season no matter which sport it may be. Creating division and spreading hate on social media is a virus in its own making.

Featured Illustration by Olivia Varnell

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Preston Rios

Preston Rios

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