Editor’s note last week we published this piece by Tami Dooley and it prompted this reply by Levi Denny.
The only certainty in life is that nothing is certain. Knowing that gives us two choices as human beings — we can rely on numbers and probabilities and assess our willingness to take part in something, or we can rely on our hunches and give into our worst fears. Maybe you don’t take a flight and you drive instead because you are afraid of a plane crash, even though you know that driving is statistically far more dangerous than flying since the chance of death is 1 in 98 driving versus 1 in 7,178 flying. College football needs to use the numbers in front of them, be logical, and get on the plane.
Risk assessment by nature is not fun. Just the name in itself lets you know there is risk to the activity you are about to partake in. Knowing where you stand, however, lets you make the best choice possible. Statistically, as of July 23rd, 2020, just under 4 million people in the US have contracted COVID-19. There are 331 million people in the US. That is an infection rate of just over 1%. That 1% encompasses the entire population; the elderly, obese, most at risk included. A great majority of the college football world does not fall into those categories. Certainly some coaches and staff will fall into one of those spaces (Mangino and Bielema are out, so that helps my case) but most of our worry is centered around 18-22 year old healthy young men. You can duckduckgo your way to the obscure cases — the press loves the outlier that grabs clicks — but that is less than one-tenth of the one-percent.
With no college football czar, the decision of whether or not to play comes down to each conference, and ultimately the president of each university. I believe it should come down to each athlete. Every single player that steps foot on the field has been made aware of the risks to their health prior to this season, and our current climate has not changed that. Schools should play football, but they should allow each player to decide if they are willing to take the risk associated with playing. Choosing not to play should not result in the loss of a scholarship. Choosing to play a sport on a stage they’ve dreamed of all their life should not be denied.
I have intentionally left the loss of revenue for last. Losing money should not trump the risk; however, there is no denying the loss of football has a far reaching impact across nearly every university in the nation. By only losing Big 10 games, the MAC lost over $10 million dollars in revenue. In total, the Big 10 had nearly $25 million in payments for non-conference games at last check. Central Michigan alone lost $2.5 million. That hit doesn’t just impact the football team. The trickle down effect is undeniable.
America, the universities, and the athletes don’t just want football. They need football. We cannot spend every day and every waking hour living in fear of the unknown when we are aware of the facts. There is one other certainty in life — numbers never lie. The NCAA can’t punt on third and one. It’s time to run the damn ball.