With the unknowns of the COVID-19 pandemic, one consideration for the NCAA is to move fall sports to the spring. No offense to every other fall sport but the vast majority of people who are concerned with this potential switch is likely watching or are involved with college football.
Pushing the season to spring has been talked about but it seems it’s only been talk, and talk of it being a matter of last resort. That is, until now.
The Athletic reported that the Ivy League is set to announce that they are moving fall sports to the spring, which includes football. Obviously, a conference from the Football Championship Subdivison moving to the spring won’t interrupt the top of the football hierarchy all that much but it could be a sign of things to come.
If you were to tell someone at the start of 2020 that a worldwide pandemic would cause March Madness to be canceled, they wouldn’t believe you. That’s just what happened and it took the Ivy League canceling their conference tournament (and Rudy Gobert’s positive COVID-19 test) to start the snowball that led to the entire tournament being canceled.
Maybe it’s because the Ivy League relies less on generating revenue from collegiate sports but them stopping or postponing their season opens up the others to do the same. With schools looking to maintain online classes and various states facing a world where they have many new positive cases compared to other states, it’s getting more and more likely that a FBS conference would move things to the spring. And if someone does that, it’ll open things up for every conference to do the same.
Having said that, let’s be honest with ourselves. The only motivation for the NCAA and schools to maintain a fall football schedule is because of fans and whether or not they can attend games. If it’s determined that fans cannot attend in the fall but will be able to, or have more fans able to, attend in the spring, schools will more likely prefer to play in the spring and increase ticket revenue. If fans can attend in the fall or it’s determined that the situation regarding fans attending games won’t change until after spring 2021, the NCAA won’t bother moving anything and just keep games in the fall.
That’s where we’re at right now. It’s all about playing the waiting game. But at some point, the NCAA will need to make a decision. Playing college football in the spring might not be ideal but if it’s the most financially lucrative option, they’re playing in the spring. And while the Ivy League didn’t make that decision based on revenue, they opened the possibility for spring football in 2021.
[The Athletic/Photo: Tim O’Meara/The Harvard Crimson]