Pretty good summary of the road block some see for college football

What little optimism I had when the scientists and administrators were the decision makers is all but dashed when the attorneys and bean counters enter the fray. First it was follow the science, now it will be further complicated with follow the money. Before I am corrected and chastised, I fully understand and agree that the players have the right to reasonable levels of protection, especially monitoring, medical care and some form of shared responsibility for proven damages. I say shared, because while I know many want to play for the sake of playing and we all know the schools and conferences benefit, the players are making choices that include these considerations as well as the opportunity for showcasing abilities for professional careers.

My position for the past several years is that the huge dollars involved in major college sports will come to an end sooner or later. Of coarse I thought that eventually TV revenue would drop to cause that to happen. This virus appears to be the tipping point for the dollars to go down drastically. And the liability factor is real and lurking.

My professional career included a lot of time with lawyers dealing with lawsuits, threats of lawsuits and liability concerns. They are real.

I’ve not thought about the liability part of kids playing until now. It’s another unanswered question. And it’s deeper than major college sports. Think about the local High Schools, Middle Schools and even Elementary School exposure.

Something new every day.

That’s it. Good article.

Maybe. Ticket sales and probably donations are going to be hugely affected, but TV dollars may just keep going up, even if the sport is largely a studio sport. People have had their lives turned upside down this year and my sense is they want some sense of normalcy, things like they used to be. Like watching football on Saturdays.

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I had to sign in or subscribe. Couldn’t read it. I guess the Cliff Notes version is that schools can get sued & lose if a player catches the virus. I still think the potential legal liability (vs. the PR disaster) is overblown, but that’s another story.

Same here…But I posted this here a few days ago:

“It’s about liability and optics. With everything else that is going on right now, the Universities just cannot afford to put themselves in a position in which they will be the target of multiple law suits related to Covid-related illness and possibly deaths. They just can’t.”

It asked me to sign in, but I just went back to the article and was able to read it all.

I read the entire article, then it said pay. I passed.

Agree it’s overblown. Sovereign immunity and causation issues are big. And would some insurer group be willing to underwrite sort of a collective coverage for, as an example, all P5 teams? It might for a big enough premium. 62 schools in P5. $500,000 per, or $31,000,000 premium. Couple liability insurance with an opt out for any player who wants to opt out, and the liability issue might lessen.

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Every athlete who chooses to play a sport understands there are risks of serious injury that could end their careers or leave them with a disability. These are considerations & decisions that every player & their families must make for themselves before they choose to play a sport - including jr. high, high school, or college.

The Covid virus presents an additional health risk to both athletes & to students. Both have the option to play sport &/or to attend college for an education or not. The universities provide the opportunities, but do not require students to attend college whether to further their education or to participate in sports.

No doubt every university fully discloses to players the risks (including Covid) & makes every reasonable effort to safeguard the health of the players. I believe that every player signs a waiver stating that they understand the risks & that they do not hold the university responsible if they become sick or injured. That assumes that the universities are not negligent in their efforts.

Same with colleges requiring meningitis vaccination before enrolling, we can assume that a Covid vaccination will also be required after it becomes available. In the meantime, students & athletes have a choice.

With regards to paying athletes:
They are paid with a free education thru scholarships & with the opportunity for development & exposure for those seeking pro sports. Much of the excess money from sports is used to expand athletic facilities to develop more players & to enable more future players to play sports & to fund more scholarships. Excess money is used to fund academic buildings on campus (especially at UofA).

Most smaller universities already subsidize their sports that operate at a loss, even during financial good times. How do they additionally fund payments to players? The only way to pay players & not give wealthy schools a recruiting advantage is that all schools pay equal amounts to its player. Most smaller schools with smaller budgets will consequently need to shut down their sports programs & fewer high school athletes therefore have the opportunity to play college sports or to receive athletic scholarships that fund their education.

With the obvious current financial crunch at universities, there are no excess dollars to pay players so poor timing for college players to demand pay for play.


Nice post dfwtexhog. Well thought out and delivered.

We know what you would do. Not sure the school presidents are going to see it that way. Obviously, many do not.

I like a lot of what I read here. But know the school presidents have little confidence in how things are going to shake out over the next four months.

You know, despite what I coldly say above about insurance and opt outs, we do need to remember these are human lives. As a parent, I’d really think hard about whether to subject my son to permanent heart damage via Covid-19. All the money in the world would not solve that. Talk about weighing risks all you want, but unless you’re doing the weighing it doesn’t matter. Every person and family has a different risk calculus.

Could be excellent timing.

Schools are asking players to risk their lives, literally, playing when there’s a virus with a decidedly non-zero risk of death or permanent organ damage, that would be easily transmissible while playing or practicing? And the schools are asking them to play in large part because “We have to play because if we don’t, our athletic budget is screwed and we’ll have to fire people and cut sports, and you have to risk your lives and health for us to do that, but all you get for it is tuition, fees, room and board?”

Right now in the USA (population approx. 331 million), there are more than 5 million confirmed cases and getting close to 165,000 deaths per Johns Hopkins University (other estimates are even higher). That means one in 64 Americans has had the virus and 1 in 2000 Americans has already died, and those proportions are only going to shrink as the infection numbers and death toll continue to go up. A little more than 1.5 percent of the US population has had the virus, and 3.2 percent of the confirmed cases died.

Tiny numbers, or so some would have you believe. But let’s look at FBS football. Scholarship plus walk-ons at 130 schools is probably more than 13,000 football players. Divide 13,000 by 64 and you get about 203 cases. And does anyone seriously think that the rate of transmission of people (a) living on a college campus and attending classes with people who may not take the virus seriously, and (b) having body to body contact with players on their team and other teams for two hours per practice and three hours on game day, is not going to be higher than one in 64?

But let’s say 1 in 64 and 3% fatality is accurate. So you have 200ish cases and of those, 3 percent will die. That’s six deaths. And we have no figures on the number of people who survive but have lasting organ damage. Is our entertainment worth six deaths and who knows how many permanent ailments?

I don’t see the comparison that athletes assumed the risk by playing. They assumed the risk of torn ACLs and concussions and broken necks, yes. This virus is a whole 'nother animal, and we know the best way to prevent it is to isolate from others who may have it.

I will be 85 next week but fear that what you wrote was in my day quite accurate.
I never heard of any waivers etc. and of course the big difference in the 1950’s and now is simply money. Very few players in the 50’s, early 50’s anyway, even thought of a football career after college. Some did go to get an education and a degree etc, and some went just to keep playing football.

Sadly, millions of dollars are now at stake for rhe players and the schools. Overall, I feel the world is not better off, but sadly much worse off with the money saturating collegiate sports. I fear college football is now the NFL’s minor league.

Most people will laugh at me saying this but collegiate football not being played at all for one season would only truly affect money interests, sadly most things in life fit that description.

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With added safeguards, isolation, & testing in place for players & low # testing positive so far, bigger risk to players is contracting the virus in the classrooms, dorms, campus dining halls, & thru socializing after school starts up rather than on the playing field.

Covid equally impacts students, athletes & university staff, more so if one has pre-existing health issues or elderly. Students & their families have the option in their decision whether to attend college or not. For athletes, Covid presents the same risks & choice - that being whether to attend college & assume the risk or opt out this Fall until a vaccine is in place.

After losing 1 friend & another requiring heart surgery due to Covid (both healthy & not elderly), we take the virus seriously. With a son returning to UofA for grad school, we are making the same decisions & choices about Fall classes.

No doubt Chancellor Steinmetz will be making decisions that are in the best interests & safety of the student body & university staff, regardless of the ability to play Fall sports & athletic dept budgets.

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If players were being forced to play, I’d agree. However, each student-athlete has the option to not play. Some will surely choose that, but it sounds as though many still want to play.

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My son played jr high & high school sports & waivers were the norm, thanks to our letigious society.

As local donors to local TX universities explained to me, more college academic buildings, endowments, academic scholarships, & big dollar grants are funded by proud wealthy alumni who are willing to open their deep pocketbooks due to college sports, especially when their teams are successful. UofA is obviously heavily dependent on financial gifts from our wealthy alumni. These gifts would be much smaller without the success, pride, bragging rights, & outlook for Razorback sports. It’s all about the money & the success that it brings…

I don’t disagree with that, but they may also feel pressure from their coaches to play, not to opt out. I know I would have in their situation when I was 19 or 20. Opt out and never see playing time again? They’re weighing that in their minds. And 19-year-olds aren’t famous for thinking in their long-term interests either. I know I didn’t when I was that age, or I wouldn’t have majored in journalism.