President Trump calls on college football games to resume; Big Ten could pull plug: report

Tuesday, August 11, 2020
AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)

President Donald Trump is calling for college football games to resume this season, as athletic conferences consider canceling or postponing play due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"The student-athletes have been working too hard for their season to be cancelled," the President tweeted on Monday, adding the hashtag #WeWantToPlay.

Another tweet simply said: "Play College Football!"

Trump's calls for college football to resume come amid a larger push by his administration to get academic institutions -- both in primary and higher education -- to reopen in the fall. They also come amid reports that two of the "Power Five" conferences -- the Big Ten and Pac-12 -- are expected to cancel their 2020 football season games, according to reports from multiple sports news outlets.

Leaders from college sports' Power Five conferences discussed the football season and other fall sports over the weekend. Though the academic year is approaching, no decision has been reached yet. The discussions are expected to continue over the next few days.

According to ESPN, the Big Ten is expected to make a decision on its college football season on Tuesday, but the impact of it could vary widely, as league presidents are considering pushing back the start of the season to Sept. 26 or postponing it to the spring, a conference source told ESPN.

The presidents are expected to meet at 10:30 a.m. ET and although they are still considering becoming the first FBS conference to postpone fall sports, the majority of their athletic directors aren't ready to "pull the plug," the source said.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany confirmed Monday afternoon that Trump would like to see college football "safely resume."

"A lot of these college athletes work their whole lives to get four years; sometimes they're redshirted an extra year if they're lucky. They work their whole lives for this moment, and he'd like to see them have a chance to live out their dreams," she added.

In his tweets, Trump shared a message from Clemson University football quarterback Trevor Lawrence, one star athlete among a group of college football players pushing for games this fall.

In June at Clemson, Lawrence's school, 28 student athletes and staff, including 23 football players, tested positive for the coronavirus. And nationwide, there is a growing list of college athletes who have tested positive for the virus.

Penn State University football coach James Franklin isn't hiding his sentiments.

In a statement, he said, "The best decision right now isn't to cancel the season. I implore the Big Ten to consider all possibilities to preserve college football this fall. I support our student-athlete's desire to play this fall and will exhaust all options for them."

Research shows that 1 in 3 young adults (ages 18 to 25) are at risk of severe Covid-19, with smoking playing a big part in their level of risk.

And though earlier in the outbreak health experts underscored that older adults were most vulnerable to the coronavirus, the proportion of cases in teens and young adults has gone up sixfold, according to the World Health Organization.

Last week, the University of Connecticut canceled its 2020 football season amid growing concerns surrounding Covid-19. UConn belongs to the Football Bowl Subdivision, a conference within the Power Five.

The National Junior College Athletic Association announced in July that close-contact fall sports, including football, would move to the spring semester.

In Pennsylvania, Governor Tom Wolf has said youth sports should not resume until January, a recommendation sure to disappoint students, parents and coaches preparing for fall seasons.

The Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association, the major governing body of school sports in Pennsylvania, has delayed a decision about whether to follow the governor's recommendation. However, the PIAA said it believes a fall sports season can be conducted safely.

One thing is for sure -- the students are ready to play.

A football team in Cheltenham Township, Pennsylvania wants to play and they campaigned outside of the high school Monday night to let everyone know.

For team captain, Amani Ezell, it's more than just a game.

"Right now you have a lot of kids in Philly that are dying of gun violence and football is their outlet, football is what keeps them off the streets," said Ezell.

He says he can't imagine a fall without it.

"Corona is not really killing young adults my age, but guns are. So football is what helps us staying alive and sometimes it's our only option," said Ezell.

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