UNITED STATES—On Tuesday, August 11, the Big Ten Conference, one of the Power Five conferences in the Football Bowl Subdivision, officially announced it would postpone the 2020-2021 season.
According to their announcement, presidents of the conference decided not to start the season in the fall because of health and safety concerns regarding the pandemic. They indicated they relied on medical advice and on conversations they shared with federal, state and local government agencies, as well as professional and international sports organizations.
“The mental and physical health and welfare of our student-athletes has been at the center of every decision we have made regarding the ability to proceed forward,” said Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren. “As time progressed and after hours of discussion with our Big Ten Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases and the Big Ten Sports Medicine Committee, it became abundantly clear that there was too much uncertainty regarding potential medical risks to allow our student-athletes to compete this fall.”
Sports included in the announcement are the women’s cross country, field hockey, football, men’s and women’s soccer, and women’s volleyball. Regular-season contests and the Big Ten Championships and tournaments will also be postponed. This decision affects the athletic branch of the University of Wisconsin, the University of Michigan, Ohio State University and 11 other world-class research institutions that are members of the Big Ten.
Some institutions have shared their approval on the decision. University of Wisconsin Chancellor Rebecca Blank and Athletic Director Barry Alvarez said that they thought it was a correct resolution in a statement.
“As the Big Ten statement indicates, sports are simply different from other campus activities. There is no way to preserve physical distancing during competition, and masking can make competition very difficult,” Blank and Alvarez said. “There are also a variety of unknowns about the interaction of COVID-19 with extreme physical exertion. As a result, playing the fall season would pose risks that we think are not acceptable for our student-athletes and our athletic staff.”
Others addressed some of the financial concerns that may arise among student athletes, as a result of the postponement of the season.
“We are focused on supporting our student-athletes in every way, ensuring their scholarships are still in place, and looking out for their health and safety and the health and safety of all our students as they continue to pursue their studies in these challenging times,” said Ohio State President-elect Kristina M. Johnson in a statement.
The announcement came after some players from the Power 5 institutions were starting a movement on social media with the hashtag “We Want To Play,” in which representatives said they wanted to have the possibility of playing this upcoming season. The athletes also mentioned creating a college football players association.
“Establish universal mandated health and safety procedures and protocols to protect college-athletes against COVID-19 among all conferences throughout the NCAA. Give players the opportunity to opt out and respect their decision. Guarantee eligibility whether a player chooses to play the season or not, ” said their request released in social media.
The Big Ten Conference said they were evaluating the possibility of playing the sports that were mentioned in the spring semester. They will continue monitoring the situation.
Written By Angela Perez