POLL QUESTION – JULY 12
By Leo Haggerty

SHOULD COLLEGE FOOTBALL START THE SEASON PLAYING WITHOUT FANS OR POSTPONE THE SEASON UNTIL WHEN FANS COULD POSSIBLY ATTEND?
Normally, I don’t encourage readers to take the time to delve into our columns.  That’s not the case today.
First, check out our weekly poll question because it’s a beauty. And totally relevant with what’s going on in the nation right now so check it out..
SHOULD COLLEGE FOOTBALL START THE SEASON PLAYING WITHOUT FANS OR POSTPONE THE SEASON UNTIL WHEN FANS COULD POSSIBLY ATTEND?
Now, let me inform you of this.  The dozen opinions that you will read below are as diverse as the day is long.
Our staff goes from one end of the spectrum to the other commenting on this issue.  Some did it in a sentence and other took an entire page.
Either way, it makes for great reading.  Enjoy.
JOHN LENTZ – NCAA MEN’S BASKETBALL ANALYST
Let them play! If fans want to come, they will. It’s America, freedom of choice! I guarantee if they sell tickets, fans will come!!
JEFFREY NEIL FOX – PUBLISHER OF ITS SPORTS MAGAZINE
Postpone season(s)until pandemic is under control.
BARRY JENKINS – GUEST CONTRIBUTOR
Start this fall (if it’s safe) regardless if fans can attend or not.
STEVEN FOX – PHOTO JOURNALIST
We are all so starved for football that, even without fans, the game can be played with gusto and enthusiasm. It will help heal us and strike at the boredom in our Corona lives. Are you ready for some football?. I am!
KEVIN NOVAK – PHOTO JOURNALIST
Fans or no fans isn’t really the question at this point.  The question that needs to be asked is does it make sense to try and play football, or any other sport for that matter, and potentially contract the virus while doing so?  Sure most athletes are healthy folks and would overcome the immediate effects, but the long term impacts, specifically on lung function, are what gives me pause.
As much as we all yearn for the return of sports, if I were a collegiate or professional athlete, I’d wait until there was a vaccine.
DAVID ALEXANDER – AFC WEST CORRESPONDENT
As with much of the national discussion on dealing with COVID, there is no one standard.  But if a college cannot guarantee the health of a student on campus (look at the number of schools where students will be taking fall classes online), there should be no college football in the Fall.  Lincoln Riley has indicated that spring football will work for him.  The Ivy League will probably play spring football.  I’m aware of the money crunch that would come with postponing football until the spring, but the chances of getting through an entire Fall season without massive outbreaks is slim.  It would be nice if the networks would recognize the benefit of playing in the spring.  By the way, please notice the silence of the NCAA on this issue.
KAZ RIVARD – NFC NORTH CORRESPONDENT

Sorry for the long response but it’s an interesting topic and I got into the weeds a bit.  Here goes.

If they can afford to have no gate, then I would say let em’ play. I see a psychological disadvantage in moving forward without fans, as the fans can provide a level of energy to the players and teams. For some, this may be a non-issue. However, I do feel it will hinder some performances. Even playing at a lower level, I have to admit the adrenaline you get from the crowd is unparalleled. It also takes away the fun of home field advantage. I look at the costs related to keeping up with testing, social distancing, proper PPE, sanitation, and really everything needed to meet the “standard” for safety in these crazy and trying times. Add those costs up, take away revenues from no gates, concessions, merchandise, etc. and what is left? I don’t know that answer, and it would be a variable that changes from school to school, but I do know this would be a tough business decision to be make. Yes, ultimately it is all about the revenue. One could argue sponsorships, television contracts, endorsements, even for some teams you can loop in bowl game revenue, etc.. However, that gate is extremely valuable to these schools and nobody can really argue the fact it will hurt the schools to play with no fans on a financial level.

We have had months to formulate a plan on what it would look like, and to be honest, I do not see a concrete plan in place. You can’t argue that because nobody has an emergency pandemic packet lying around setting specific guidelines and next steps. However, if they do play, I see the chances of a train wreck on the horizon and let me set up this hypothetical scenario.

1 player tests positive, re-test the entire team and staff? He’s the starting QB for Georgia. Well, #2 you’re up and we’re playing Alabama…. Alabama doesn’t feel confident playing until all test results come back negative for everyone else on Georgia’s roster. I just see this going poorly, and being extremely expensive.  Not a pretty picture, right?

I do believe some schools can weather that storm (short term), and there are some that simply cannot.  Even if you reduce roster sizes, how are you going to keep THAT many 18-22 year old young athletes quarantined for an extended period of time? What if someone isn’t comfortable playing during all of this, or help us all… someone’s parents step in and make a big fuss…(this will happen). Like I said, it can be done and I do believe it will, but I see a train wreck coming down the tracks.

I could go on all day, and back and forth with this topic, but to save the reader time, I will sum it up with some positive insight. I do feel that we will see college football come back this Fall for our enjoyment and entertainment purposes. I think they will have to be very strategic and try, at all costs, to look a few steps ahead. I don’t see this getting sorted out by Spring unfortunately, so I would say let them play. I want to wrap up with saying the health and safety of these young athletes is, without question, the most important piece to this puzzle. If a plan cannot be made with confidence to keep all involved safe (as humanly possible) then I would have to talk out of both sides of my mouth and say move the season back.

ANGELO DIBIASE – NCAA WOMEN’S BASKETBALL ANALYST
I would play in spring when we can, possibly, have more than 20K in attendance. Clemson poised for another title run.

T.J. SHARPE – AFC CHEF
Start the season, all things being equal. This is not about the fans, the television contract, or even the university. It’s about the players on the field. If we can keep them relatively safe, then you let them play. The farce that is “amateur athletics” gets put on its death bed if seasons are stopped because people can’t attend.

LARRY DIBIASE – NCAA MEN’S BASKETBALL ANALYST
I thought, when it was first mentioned, that I liked the idea about playing a full schedule, like from February through May..I know it would overlap basketball & baseball..but that’s why they have computers to figure it all out! Of course, the question would be..will the definite first rounders play? Risking injury? BUT..I’m all for postponing it..it would be a sacrilege to only play conference games..Clemson has played South Carolina since the 1890’s!!  Go Tigers!
JIM THIES – NFC NORTH CORRESPONDENT
I would wait until spring. Hopefully, then there can be more fans in the stands. For me, right now, there are too many unknowns as to the safety of teams and fans. Of course the same could be said for the spring, but the extra time allows for the possibility of getting more answers. A big question is what the draft-eligible players will do? To play or not to play – that is the question.
LEO HAGGERTY – EDITOR OF ITS SPORTS MAGAZINE
Let me put this fact out for your persusal.  The National Football League has 7.25 billion reasons to play in empty stadiums.  That’s because that number is the amount of money that is generated from television. Colleges do not have that luxury.  Without the revenue from football, there will be massive cuts in athletic department budgets.  Football is the “engine” that drives the atheltic “”bus” and, with no football, that comes to a grinding halt.  College football will be forced to play when their stadiums can be filled with paying spectators.  They have no other choice.