COVID-19 proves detrimental to college football programs


Photo used with permission from Google Commons

The Army-Navy game will look different this year with limited fans due to COVID.

For over 100 years college football has been played in crowded stadiums, with parking lots and surrounding restaurants packed with fans in the hours before kickoff. This year, Coronavirus changed all of that.

One example of the impact is on SEC teams. These teams are now only allowed to seat 20.7% of their stadium’s total capacity, which amounts to millions in lost ticket sales revenue.

The Heisman Trophy is given to the best college football player in the country so the teams with these players were drastically impacted. Clemson lost their first regular season game since 2017 against Syracuse when Trevor Lawrence was sidelined and Wisconsin was forced to forgo multiple games because of several players including Heisman candidate Graham Mertz.

Another example was an interview conducted, where 20 sophomores were asked who thought would be the Heisman Trophy winner after week eight. 45% of the sophomores chose Trevor Lawrence and 10% chose Graham Mertz both of which had contracted the coronavirus.

In week 11, 15 slated games were canceled and 80% of conferences had one team with a canceled game. This caused oddities in the records between teams in the same conference as Rice has only played two games by week 11 and Western Kentucky has played nine games.

These canceled games have had a trickle-down effect on local restaurants that rely on college football games for revenue. Smoky’s Club, a restaurant in Madison, Wisconsin, usually gets around $12,000 in sales from University of Wisconsin game-day football sales, according to Matt Schmock, the restaurant operator. But, due to the lack of fans attending games he only expects about 33% of those sales, according to an ESPN article.

Students have seen this trend themselves. Sophomore Devlin McCarthy said, “Every year I go to a couple of Northwestern football games and I always eat at Aurelio’s pizza but, now without fans the location near the stadium that I go to might have to close.”

For the eighth consecutive season, college football has concluded the regular season and conference tournaments with a four-team playoff for the nation’s best teams to compete for a national championship. Every year the four teams chosen have been from either the Big 12, Big 10, Pac 12, ACC, or SEC conferences. This year teams like Wisconsin or Oregon, who will only play six games total, will compete with teams like Notre Dame or Miami who will each play 11 games, making the situation extremely difficult for the playoff committee to choose one team over another.

Independent team UCONN and all Ivy League teams were some of the few football programs to outright cancel the fall season, resulting in a complete loss of revenue for the year.