It’s been up in the air for quite some time, but seeing collegiate sports in the fall appears less likely everyday. We are now more than halfway through the month of July meaning that there is less than a month and a half until the original kickoff of the 2020 college football season.
That date was surely pushed back by the Big Ten’s decision to move to an only-conference game schedule, but now the NCAA is backed into a corner as COVID-19 cases rise across the country and the academic year is rapidly approaching. Frankly, we are coming to a breaking point for the collegiate sports in the fall in 2020.
NCAA President Mark Emmert told the ESPN’s Heather Dinich: “Today, sadly, the data point in the wrong direction. If there is to be a college sports in the fall, we need to get a much better handle on the pandemic.”
Along with his statement, Emmert and the NCAA Director of Communications released the Resocialization of Collegiate Sports: Development Standards for Practicing & Competition in a tweet alongside a stunning graph of why decisions have yet to be made:
Although testing and contact tracing infrastructure have expanded considerably, the variations in approach to reopening America for business and recreation have correlated with a considerable spike in cases in recent weeks. pic.twitter.com/TN1aE3lQ5L— NCAA (@NCAA) July 16, 2020
As you can see, the chart shows why the NCAA was so encouraged for quite some time based on their projections, but were thrown completely off base by the exponential growth to 700 million cases in the United States. Meanwhile, cases in Europe and Canada have shrunk to less than 100 million in the same time frame (albeit with less cases overall in general).
Reactions have poured out across the collegiate football world as the Ivy League canceled their season last week, the Big Ten cut their schedule to only conference games with the ACC and PAC-12 following suit, and now other Division II conferences like the Patriot League and the MEAC canceling their season altogether.
The harsh reality of it all is that the NCAA is taking a trajectory that college football and fall sports fans have feared from the beginning: there may not be game days on Saturdays in 2020.