It has been a couple of days since the Big Ten Conference decided to cancel all Fall Sports for 2020, with football being no exception.
The reaction has been one of mixed emotions. The ACC, SEC & Big 12 have decided to continue with their seasons.
Over the weekend, The Penn State Football Parents Association wrote a letter to Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren and Penn State President Eric Barron, looking for answers in why the Big Ten Conference decided to not play the 2020 Football season in the fall. Penn State became the third team, after Ohio State and Iowa, to write a letter to Big Ten Commissioner.
Dear Commissioner Warren and President Barron:
On August 5th when the Big Ten Football schedule for the Fall of 2020 was released you said, “I have a son who’s a football student-athlete in the SEC at Mississippi State. And, so, I’ve asked myself as a father, would I be comfortable for him to participate in the Big Ten based upon the testing policies, protocols and procedures we have in place? And as of today, the answer is yes.” We, the undersigned parents of Penn State Football believed you. Additionally, we trusted our coaches along with the medical staff at our University and the procedures they put in place to ensure the physical and social-emotional well being of the players in the pursuit of competing in the Fall of 2020. We want to know what changed in six days and why was this decision rushed before the Big Ten Conference and the NCAA could answer some of the most basic questions regarding the futures of these student-athletes.
On Tuesday August 11th The Big Ten Task Force for Emerging Infectious Disease and the Big Ten Sports Medicine Committee cited ongoing health concerns of Covid 19 as the reason to cancel to protect the students, faculty, and staff at the Big Ten Universities. However, in the coming weeks, these same institutions will welcome back tens of thousands of students. This student population will gather, socialize and live in communal settings.
The Penn State University Athletic Department in conjunction with the Football Medical and Training staffs have led the nation in ensuring the safety of the players, our sons, the coaches and support staff over the last two months. Our sons were regularly tested and contact tracing protocols were developed to ensure player safety as well as parent confidence. A small number of athletes were quarantined and isolated as an appropriate response to a positive test result. As of the last testing release on Wednesday August 12th, ZERO Penn State athletes tested positive for Covid 19. This is proof that minimal risk for the virus can be achieved. We believe that these young men and women are being cared for both physically and mentally in a manner that cannot be replicated in their own communities. Our athletes are elite not only in their performance on the field, but in their health status and medical care. The CDC uses 19-29 year olds as the benchmark for fatality comparison. The fatality rate for that group is .1% with the preponderance of fatalities in individuals with comorbid conditions. As parents we deserve answers as to whether these decisions are based on science or the avoidance of liability.
With the untimely cancelation of the season student-athletes and their parents are left with unanswered questions. As a result we request the following:
• A clear presentation of the medical information used by The Big Ten Task Force in the decision to cancel to the Fall 2020 season.
• A reinstatement of the schedule as presented on August 5th with open dates used as new dates for games as needed.
• A Zoom meeting with our parents to answer questions regarding eligibility including the status of 5th-year seniors and players who chose to opt-out of competition in 2020.
The Big Ten and other Power 5 Universities have committed to putting in the financial resources and time needed to get it right. They have succeeded. Why can’t we at least try to have a season? The players want to play. They are concerned about the financial impact on the State College community that they call “home”. We should not cancel the season out of fear, but rather look fear in the face, continue to adhere to the safety protocols put in place and make the attempt at a FALL season. Our expectation is that we have a response from you in the next 5 days. Thank you for your time.
We shall see how the Big Ten Conference is going to respond to Ohio State, Iowa & Penn State & who knows? Maybe they will change their decision about football for 2020.
Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports