If there is one thing that I think we all can agree on, it’s that COVID-19 has been the literal worst and I personally cannot wait until it’s either completely over or until treatments/vaccines are found. Back in February/March the world came to a screeching halt thanks to the pandemic, and even sporting events had to completely shut down for the first time perhaps ever. It’s been a dark time, but there’s perhaps some light at the end of the tunnel as far as sports go.
The NCAA voted Wednesday to allow student-athletes that play football, men’s basketball, and women’s basketball to return to campus starting June 1st. As many of you may recall, the decision to shut down sports was an extremely sloppy process back in March, as conferences began individually shutting down their respective basketball tournaments before the NCAA finally initiated a complete shutdown. By allowing revenue sports to return to campuses, a significant step is being taken in the right direction when it comes to fall and winter sports happening this year, but it’s still not quite that cut and dry.
The biggest barriers that are still in place when it comes to sports completely resuming involve state and local government restrictions, which right now are a crapshoot for lack of a better term. For example: North Carolina plans to enter Phase II of Governor Roy Cooper’s plan to re-open the state starting this Friday, which means that technically sporting events can happen at 50% of the normal capacity that they otherwise would happen. However, there are some states that aren’t quite that far along yet, so it will be an extremely challenging situation for the NCAA to navigate. There are far too many schools/sports to go the “neutral location” route like some pro leagues have discussed, and when you factor in the fact that the schools themselves have to actually be operational in general for all of this to transpire just adds fuel to the fire.
As of right now, the college football season is still scheduled to begin with Week 0 on August 29th. The NFL also is still on track to begin their season in August as well without any modifications to their schedule, which will likely be a driving force in whether or not NCAA President Mark Emmert gets cold feet when it comes to allowing student-athletes to return to full-on competition. Should actual games begin taking place, I fully expect restrictions on fans being able to attend games to be in place for the unforeseeable future. Despite the large number of players, staff, and game day staffing crews that are involved at each sporting event, that situation is much easier to monitor and control than filling stadiums full of fans. A lot can certainly happen between now and August, but right now it’s hard to envision a college sports season that looks anything like what we’ve experienced before.
What do you think of the NCAA’s decision to allow student-athletes to return to campuses? Do you think we will see fans return to games before the end of calendar year 2020? Also if sports do resume this fall, which team are you the most excited to see? Let us know in the comments below.