Oregon Ducks

Geoff Schwartz: Is it worth risking health just to play football?

Oregon Ducks

What will college football look like when players finally hit the gridiron?

We already know that the Pac-12, as well as other conferences, have canceled all non-conference games, opting instead for a conference-only schedule to help eliminate travel. 

But even with all the steps in place to help contain the spread of COVID-19, there is still risk in playing a full-contact sport like football. 

Former Oregon Ducks lineman Geoff Schwartz raised a good question on the latest episode of the Talkin' Ducks podcast. "Should we risk their health for playing football?"

[Listen and download for free ‘Sports Uncovered: The uniform craze that revolutionized college football].

Really, should we?

Is it worth the health of thousands of college athletes just to play a sport? Sure, leagues like the NBA and MLB are playing right now, but those players are professional athletes. They stand to lose millions of dollars if they don't take the field. 

Whereas the amateurism of then NCAA means the athletes aren't making a dime, even if they play. 

However, there are still millions of dollars on the line, and Schwartz knows it's the driving force behind a return to play.

"It's the money, right? It's the money. We know that 85% of all college football budgets are derived from football profits. That's why football is being pushed to play, otherwise, we have a catastrophic collapsing of athletic departments. So the question is, how much is that burden on the college athletes? - Geoff Schwartz on NCAA Football 


The interesting part, however, is that teams are unlikely to return to stadiums with fans in the stands. If your 60,000 seat stadium has no one in it, then you are losing millions anyway. No ticket revenue. No concession revenue. No merchandise revenue.

Regardless of money gained or lost, health should be priority number one. 

"I think we have to look at the data that's being presented to us as far as how COVID affects the individuals in the age range," said Schwartz. "I do think there's still... incomplete data on the side effects of COVID. It's new. It's a novel coronavirus. It's still new to figure out." 

While the players will be on the ones playing the game, they won't be the only ones at risk. College coaches, many of whom are in the more at-risk age groups, will be on the field too. 

That fact alone worries Schwartz the most. 

"I'm worried less about players dying versus players having long-term health issues because they contract COVID," said Schwartz. "The coaches are more in the age range where COVID can be more deadly, where it can really affect them, and where they can get really sick. So how much do we protect the coaches, basically, from themselves during the situation."

So what will college football look like? We still don't know for sure. The Ducks are currently scheduled to start the season on September 26 against Colorado. There is still time to figure it all out, there's just not a lot of time to do it. 

Hear more from Geoff Schwartz on the latest episode of the Talkin' Ducks podcast.