College football faces uncertainty as the start of the season slowly approaches. The COVID-19 pandemic could lead to a delay or a full cancellation of the 2020-2021 college football season and this could cost the schools billions of dollars in loss revenue.
Any delays or cancellation to the season would not only be devastating to the coaches and players, who work hard to prepare for football, but to the overall revenue of schools across the country.
The SEC, ACC, Big 10, Big 12, and the Pac 12 are known as the powerhouse conferences of college football. The schools in these conferences rely on the college football season as a big source of their income. Patrick Rishem, the sports business program director at Washington University in St. Louis said that, “that schools in the Power 5 conferences could lose more than $4 billion in total football revenues and at least $1.2 billion due to lost ticket revenue.” College football has huge TV deals with channels such as ABC and ESPN that are now in jeopardy. These include many big games throughout the year that bring in a lot of extra revenue.
Football is widely considered to be America’s biggest sport and gathers millions of fans over the weekends. It is a way for people all over the country to connect and come together. The COVID-19 pandemic has been a stressful time for everyone, and the uncertainty of when life can resume normally poses a threat to the universities, the football programs and the loyal fans of the beloved game.
This really affects the cities and states that do not have professional football teams. The colleges’ teams are the heart and soul of the state and provide many jobs and opportunities for the community. The University of Alabama is a school that is well known for its dominance over the SEC and is one of the most well storied programs in college football. Walt Maddox, the mayor of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, said, “the city would lose up to $2 billion if the University of Alabama’s football season is cancelled.”
Mayor Maddox also said “the city was losing $600,000 per week when the campus was not open due to the pandemic.” Justin Birnbaum, a journalist for cnbc.com, pointed out that, “Iowa State audited its roughly $30 million to $35 million reserves to reorient necessary funds to back the athletic department’s $86 million budget.” Schools have big decisions to make whether to or not to carry on with the 2020-21 season.
Football is a sport where the term social distancing goes out the window. Players are on top of each other on the field and bunched up next to each other on the sidelines and in the locker room. The COVID-19 pandemic has infected hundreds of thousands of Americans and killed 185,963 people, according to the NY Times. Safety precautions have to be taken and all options have to be looked at. Will they shorten the season? Will teams only play against other teams in the same geographic region? Will certain players want to opt out and not play the season?
These are some of the questions athletic programs around the country will have to ask themselves. As the weather gets cooler and the leaves start to change colors, the clock is ticking on America’s Game and its money.