Skip to content

EDITORIAL: When Rutgers football returns, so will coronavirus

The return of the Scarlet Knights may seem nice at first, but beneath it, several health issues linger. – Photo by Kelly Carmack

The Big Ten Conference announced that football will indeed be played this fall, contrary to its original decision to cancel the season in its entirety.

In addition to restarting, the league is instituting several measures designed to protect players from contracting the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

“The league said any player who tested positive would be barred from games for at least 21 days and said that a team would stop practice and competition for at least a week if it recorded a positivity rate of more than 5 percent over a rolling seven-day period,” according to the New York Times.

At first glance, this may seem to be a fine plan for the league and its players. Under the surface, though, several issues fester.

First, it takes a lot of cognitive dissonance to actually believe the players will follow the guidelines. Trusting them not to party or congregate is naive, especially with so many student-athletes on the team. It is hard to imagine they all adhere closely. 

Take Louisiana State University, for example. Its head football coach, Ed Orgeron, reported that the majority of his football team had tested positive for the virus.

“The head coach of Louisiana State University football said most of his team had tested positive for coronavirus, an alarming revelation that came just a day before the Big Ten Conference announced Wednesday it would return to the gridiron in the fall,” according to NBC News.

The NBC article focuses on the players who are infected, but what about all the people who those players infected? What about the elderly folks who contracted the virus due to these players and their league’s decision to play? How about the disabled, or the impoverished who cannot afford health coverage? The leagues are not only endangering the players, but also all who come in contact with them.

This is especially true for Rutgers, as its team is based in New Brunswick. Approximately 20.7 percent of people living in New Brunswick (under age 65) do not have health insurance, according to the United State census. In addition, 4.3 percent of New Brunswick under 65 years old are disabled.

When Rutgers players come back on campus and congregate or act recklessly (if we negate the slim chance they actually follow guidelines), all of those vulnerable populations in the city will immediately be put at severe risk.

Campus athletics in the age of coronavirus should not only be based on protecting players and staff, but also the communities in which these colleges reside, which are often taken advantage of by their universities.

But this decision is based on neither of those things. This is about money, clear and simple. The Big Ten Conference was set to lose a ton of money if it decided against playing football.

“Canceling college football season for the safety of student-athletes during the COVID-19 pandemic will cost Big Ten athletic departments more than $275 million in ticket sales and could reach $1 billion in total lost revenue, according to NCAA fiscal reports obtained by The Post,” according to The New York Post.

There is no denying that such a high amount of money is nothing to lose without consideration, but at what personal and community cost? People will now pour into New Brunswick for parties and bars which will spread the virus further. All to avoid financial loss.

The city of New Brunswick and its less fortunate inhabitants stand to lose an incredible amount from this decisioning, as well as other cities with Big Ten football programs in them. The human toll of resuming football far outweighs the economic costs of canceling it.

The Big Ten needs to be punished, frankly, for its abhorrent lack of leadership and decision making abilities. Rather than considering the needs of its athletes or its communities, it has decided to circumvent such considerations for the almighty dollar. We as consumers of Big Ten media must hold it to account.

First, for the sake of your safety and the safety of those around you, do not pour into New Brunswick to tailgate or celebrate Rutgers football. 

Do not consume Big Ten football this fall, or do so from means which do not fill the conference's bank account. Do not reward it for endangering us and our New Brunswick community, and further damaging the relationship Rutgers has with the local area. This type of ill-advised, health-discarding policy is exactly what got us to the decrepit point we are at, and cannot be celebrated further.

The Daily Targum's editorials represent the views of the majority of the 152nd editorial board. Columns, cartoons and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the Targum Publishing Company or its staff.

Join our newsletterSubscribe