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Opinion: Trevor Lawrence’s stance that players are safer with fall football is a worthy conversation

Could cancelling the season actually do more harm than good?

College Football Playoff National Championship - Clemson v LSU Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images

Lots of news is swirling around about the college football season being cancelled in the coming days.

With a potential cancellation looming we’ve seen players from Penn State use the hashtag #IWantToPlay, and Ohio State quarterack Justin Fields say #WeWantToPlay. There’s a collective momentum building from players stating their desire to play. However, the most vocal and nationally recognized collegiate player of the bunch, Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence, has taken his stance on wanting to play to another level.

Lawrence believes that players would be safer in a football environment than they would be otherwise.

“People are at just as much, if not more risk, if we don’t play. Players will all be sent home to their own communities where social distancing is highly unlikely and medical care and expenses will be placed on the families if they were to contract COVID-19,” Lawrence said on Twitter. “Not to mention the players coming from situations that are not good for them/ their future and having to go back to that. Football is a safe haven for so many people. We are more likely to get the virus in everyday life than playing football. Having a season also incentivizes players being safe and taking all of the right precautions to try to avoid contracting covid because the season/ teammates safety is on the line. Without the season, as we’ve seen already, people will not social distance or wear masks and take the proper precautions.”

Without going through the weeds from a data-driven perspective, Lawrence’s comments make some sense on the surface. Players would be tested more regularly than they would be otherwise as part of a team environment, and there would be a structure and reward for players if they took the proper precautions. The counter to Lawrence’s point of view is no matter how many proper health and safety protocols a team puts in place, once players start practicing or playing in games against programs located in other cities, the virus can spread.

It’s unfortunate there hasn’t been a readily available and published study that looks at if players are safer playing football with all the current protocols, or if they’re safer back in their hometown or just on campus. I see both sides of the coin here, but I’m still not sure how much safer regular students are on campus than student-athletes who get tested for the virus regularly. Granted, community spread can occur more rapidly when there are 80-plus teammates, and staff on top of that, but the safeguard is the amount of testing and medical care these players receive. Some have questioned Lawrence’s comment that “players will all be sent home to their own communities”, but that’s more fact than fiction as most players take all online courses during the season and would probably head back home if there wasn’t a season.

Talking about cancelling a season or letting a fall schedule play out is bound to be a divisive subject, but there’s no hate in Lawrence’s rhetoric, which isn’t political or filled with animosity.

What’s important isn’t how any one person feels about Lawrence’s comments, what is important is if the data accumulated by public health experts indicates his rationale is valid or not. Lawrence’s stance pulls on emotional strings, and his points appear plausible at the very least, but we need more research in a short amount of time to roll with his line of thinking.

Lawrence has now created a major conversation and is promoting a new angle that we haven’t really heard any player convey as eloquently as he did. We can’t expect Power Five commissioners and presidents to hinge their decision making on the wants of players, but there needs to be more transparency and the voices of players and parents should be taken into consideration fully before a final decision on a yay or nay to the upcoming fall football season is made.