Over a month after the Ivy League announced its decision to cancel fall athletics, bigger and more recognizable conferences are finally following suit. But not if a certain former Quaker has anything to do with it.
The Big Ten and Pac-12 have announced that they will cancel their seasons, and the other Power 5 conferences will be meeting this week to decide the fates of their seasons. Unhappy with these plans, President and 1968 Wharton graduate Donald Trump has joined the wave of fans and athletes who are attempting to salvage the season.
In an interview on FoxSports Tuesday, Trump said that cancelling the season would be a “tragic mistake,” also briefly bringing up his college experience.
"I never really did the big time college football. I went to an Ivy League school, it wasn't really quite the same [as LSU or Alabama]," said Trump.
His comment about not having a college football experience is interesting, considering that Penn has the oldest collegiate football stadium in the country and it averaged 11,004 fans per home game in 1967, his senior year.
While he probably meant that he didn’t go to a traditional football powerhouse such as Penn State or Michigan, where attendances average over 100,000 and the experience is admittedly different, he may have come away from Penn with this feeling because he may not have had much of a college football experience at all.
Trump transferred into Penn after his sophomore year, but many of his classmates struggle to remember him. He reportedly spent most of his weekends back home in New York, which makes it unlikely that he attended many Quaker games.
Regardless, he has shown to be an avid supporter of the sport of college football during his presidency, having hosted several championship-winning teams at the White House as well as attending multiple games, including the Army-Navy game in Philadelphia last fall.
His recent love for college football in conjunction with his belief that the players will be safe has fueled his push for the upcoming season.
"These football players are very young, strong people, and physically, I mean they're physically in extraordinary shape," Trump said in the interview. "You're not going to see people dying."
The President is correct in stating that college football players would be less susceptible to the virus. Hospitalization rates for people between 18 and 29 years old are five times lower than those for people ages 65 to 74. The CDC reports that 80% of coronavirus deaths are from people over the age of 65 and that people in their 20s are less likely to die from the pandemic.
However, athletes aren’t the only people involved with a college football season. There are countless administrators, coaches, and coordinators who are of an advanced age and potentially in inferior physical condition. Additionally, concern has been raised in recent days that myocarditis, inflammation of the heart linked to viral infections, could be a major issue as it was found in at least five Big Ten athletes, as well as in Red Sox pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez, which has caused him to miss the season.
Still, the President has been making his thoughts on the subject known over the last few days via Twitter, where he has retweeted a tweet by Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence that laid out a set of requirements and demands in order to make play safe in the fall. He also pinned a tweet of a promotional video for the college football season with the popular hashtag “We Want to Play”.
In the over-20-minute interview, Trump touched on a number of subjects, including the NBA, NFL, and Joe Biden's vice president pick. He was asked how he thinks his friend Tom Brady will do on his new team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and said he expects the quarterback to succeed and that he understands that the team has "very good receivers", which is notable because former Quaker and wide receiver Justin Watson is entering his third year with the team.
Trump is not the only politician who has openly advocated for a fall season. Senator and former Midland University President Ben Sasse sent a letter to the Big Ten imploring them to not cancel the season.
Whether these attempts to save the season are fruitful remains to be seen. For now, all that the President and the rest of the world of college football can do is wait.
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