The Fight Between Covid-19 & College Athletes

Charles Wang, News Editor

For a long time, college sports have been one of the highlights of college life, with thousands of students gathering to watch each game and the millions of other citizens watching on TV. But before college athletes can play for professional teams and make a living, they have one last opponent to defeat: COVID-19. 

The coronavirus has many regrettable consequences, one of which is its negative effect on college sports and college athletes. College athletes are itching to get back to their spring season sports, including baseball, lacrosse, tennis, track and field, and more. 

Before this can happen, the quarantine has to be lifted, and the 50 states have to gradually implement plans to allow people progressively to assemble in different settings. Currently, staff is deciding when is the best time to reopen the athletic facilities. Any opening of a public place can increase the chances of an athlete catching the sickness with the risk of the virus. 

One of the worst impacts this virus is having is how it’s ending some college athlete’s college careers. Senior athletes especially are hoping that their friends and families can see them play one last time before heading off into the real world. Further, players seeking to play professional sports will have a much more difficult time diving into the professional sports world. They are missing out on an entire season of their sport, and are losing hopes of their drafting chances. 

There is an idea that the NCAA suggested, which was that they could play an additional year in college. Still, this alternative is highly unlikely, as most players need to get into work as soon as possible and cannot spend more money on another year of college. 

The coronavirus is delaying many professional sports league’s drafts; the NBA is extending the draft withdrawals to give college athletes more options. However, some newer organizations like the PLL, or Premier Lacrosse League are continuing with their draft in preparation for the next spring season and just announced their 2020 PLL draft. 

The MLB has recently proposed a reopening test plan for the year 2020. This has raised much controversy: Is the MLB ready and capable of creating a risk-free plan that will successfully evade the coronavirus? The NFL was successful in running a virtual draft, but what will entail for other sports?

Interestingly, the NCAA had recently proposed letting college athletes get paid for endorsements. In previous years, many states have not been allowed, with California being one of the first states to enable it in 2019. This would mean that college athletes could get paid for being in commercials for different brands, and the like. 

The NCAA is currently lobbying Congress to override the current state laws prohibiting college athletes from getting paid. This entire idea is uncharted territory; this change will benefit many college athletes, but it also creates specific problems and raises the question of its ethicality. 

One of the most important and significant impacts the coronavirus will have on college sports is financial. College sports are being and will continue to be hit hard by the pandemic. The economic climate of college sports in different departments will be drastically different pre-COVID and post-COVID due to the economic downfall of the US. 

Sports departments in universities across the nation and the NCAA are losing money, which will have detrimental effects on college sports following the end of the coronavirus. In dire situations, schools won’t be able to fund necessary sporting events and games, etc., and won’t be able to maintain different sports facilities. They will be forced to make certain cuts to compensate for the tremendous losses. 

Such actions have already been taken in schools like Iowa State, where coaches and certain staff are getting a one-year temporary cut in their salary, with a one-year suspension of incentive bonuses for all coaches. This has led to the speculation of possible temporary changes in the college sports environment and the NCAA’s requirements. 

Hopefully, sometime soon in the future, we can come back to the normal college sports life that we all grew accustomed to enjoying. But for now, it’d be better for players to stay inside and stay safe from the seemingly undefeatable enemies they are facing.