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                          Blog #183- September 2020

It's September 2020, and there is joy within the Big Ten Conference, for football at least.  Conference presidents and chancellors reversed the league's decision back in early August to postpone football and all fall sports to Spring 2021 because of covid-19 safety precautions.  

There was such a backlash against that announcement. Parent groups from 11 of the 14 teams sent letters of protest to Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren and even staged protests outside the empty Big Ten offices in Chicago.  Eight University of Nebraska football players filed suit against the league, asking for more transparency in the explanation why football was postponed when the Big 12, ACC, and SEC were all planning to play a regular season schedule.

Lawyers from every part of Big Ten territory started requesting information using Freedom of Information Act protocols.  Politicians needing a boost in their poll placements jumped into the conversation, including a staggering Donald Trump, who of course named himself the "only person" who could have gotten Big Ten football back on track.  You're right.  We're all gagging on that pronouncement.

The main reason for the reversal was assurances from the Big Ten medical committee that testing procedures had improved significantly since the premature August announcement.  Advancements in rapid testing which will lead to daily antigen testing for players was one reason, as was diminishing of myocarditis concerns.  All of these arguments against playing were reduced.

No fans will be allowed in the stadium, with the exception of members of player's families and necessary stadium personnel.  No tailgating will be allowed, although I don't see how that traditional game-day activity can be patrolled outside the eyesight of league stadiums.  Hopefully, fans of each team will adhere to safety measures calling for social distancing, mask wearing, and small groups only.

The big question now is whether games can be played without the appearance of the coronavirus following testing before and after games.  Big Ten rules state that players who test positive for the virus must quarantine for 21 days.  There are also rules pertaining to percentages of team and community spread of the virus.  Lots and lots of rules.

I'm a University of Nebraska football season ticket holder.  After the August announcement, the Nebraska athletic department sent out a survey asking how ticket holders wanted to pursue the season ticket options.  

One option was to donate all money for the tickets back to the university for this season, as a $80-100 million budget deficit was forecast when the football season was postponed.  Another option was to transfer the money from 2020 season tickets into season tickets for the 2021 season.  The last option was to refund the money for 2020 season tickets.

Athletic officials announced that 20 percent of the respondents stated they would donate the money, 60 percent stated they wanted to transfer money toward 2021 season tickets, and 20 percent asked for a refund.

The football season commences on October 23-24.  There is an eight-game schedule with one crossover game if teams don't qualify for the league championship game on December 19th in Indianapolis.  Fox, ESPN, and the Big Ten Network will be up and running.  Athletic directors will be crying for joy with television revenue now back on the table.  Neighborhood bars and restaurants in league cities will be hopping, hopefully operating under strict local health rules and not turning the venue into a virus super-spreader event.

I'll be watching games safely at home and eating game-day food and cheering on the Huskers as they tangle with Ohio State in their opening game.  Ohio State and Nebraska were the two most vocal opponents of the early decision not to play.  I guess it's poetic payback for the league to designate those two schools as opponents on opening day.

I'll also be praying that no players from all Big Ten teams test positive for the virus at the conclusion of games.  The Big Ten football season is as fragile as the seasons for all college football teams playing in 2020.  We'll just have to wait and see and keep our fingers crossed.

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