By Peri Kardashian, Staff Writer
College football breaks the norms of the game. Quarterbacks look like running backs with an arm. It is a joy to watch. Young fans bursting with school pride screaming cheers, led by cheerleaders, and the loud cheerful marching band playing the school fight song. Who wouldn’t want to be at a game?
Enter the pandemic. The coronavirus ravages all parts of the country, but particularly the southern states: Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Florida, to name a few. These states are where college football thrives, with the coaches being the highest paid public employees of their states. Most of these colleges do not have other dominant athletic teams, and have only mediocre academics. Football attracts young stars who will make names for themselves in the world, and highlight the best parts of the college they went to.
In terms of economics, sports are not major money makers for colleges. That being all sports besides football. Take Louisiana State, the 2019 College Football Champions: football gained them $9.5 M just in ticket sales. All other sports had losses. LSU is not an outlier. All SEC schools need their college football programs so that other programs, sports and cultural, can exist.
Football is extremely important to these schools, however the biggest question the FBS board needs to ask itself is: what is more important, money and revenue, or the lives of players, coaches, staff and fans? The answer should be simply the latter but unfortunately this is not the case uniformly.
As an observer of the sport I noticed that there were diverse approaches to how to be safe with the pandemic raging. In the Georgia Tech stadium, about 40% of the fans appeared to be masked, while the refs did not wear masks at all and almost no players on the sidelines wore masks, this was true in South Carolina as well. Both of these games had bands with wind instruments players throughout the game. The instruments carry Covid-19 particles farther than even screaming would. However some schools were cautious and handled the threat of the virus better. Navy had almost no fans in the stands, all players, coaches and refs had masks on, and no bands were playing. Overall, Navy was in the minority and most schools took little care in adhering to any safety guidelines that were suggested.
The lack of masks in the south is not surprising. Georgia and South Carolina’s Governors, as well as President Trump, have regularly belittled the virus. Governor Kemp of Georgia actually sued the Mayor of Atlanta in an attempt to block her from mandating masks in public. Senator Graham from South Carolina refused to take a Covid test when asked, claiming he did not need it. The leaders of these states acting skeptical of the gravity of Coronavirus translates to lack of caution in college events. Unfortunately this will result in loss of lives, and could end the season short if no further action is taken.