Month number four without college sports: How close is its return?

Illustration by Natalie Pimentel

Passion. Energy. Atmosphere. Three words that can describe the elevated feelings of die-hard fans at sporting events across the world. 

But, the pandemic has other plans about how sports should operate for the foreseeable future. 

Prior to the lockdown in mid-March, the college basketball season was nearing tournament play. For Georgia State and the Sun Belt Conference, New Orleans was set to host the conference tournament. 

But, NBA All-Star center Rudy Gobert’s positive test for COVID-19 and the NBA suspending play indefinitely caused a ripple effect in the world of sports. The NCAA along with all other conferences followed suit in canceling their tournaments and sending home all students and athletes. 

At the time, this reaction seemed to be drastic. But as we know now, the course of the pandemic has proved that the precautionary measures taken were absolutely necessary. 

But this begs a crucial question: What do the past four months mean for this fall’s NCAA seasons? 

According to NCAA Finances, Georgia States’ athletic department brought in $35 million total in revenue. This number will be extremely impacted by student-athletes not being able to play. 

According to Mike Holmes, associate athletic director at Georgia State, plans for the fall have not changed

“As of right now, we are planning to have fans at our sporting events in a safe manner this year,” Holmes said. “You have to treat the upcoming season as ‘normal’ and then when or if changes have to be made, you make them. Our current plan for [the] Georgia State Stadium, per direction from the Governor’s office and University System of Georgia, is to play at 50 percent capacity which is around [12,000] to [13,000] fans.”

Sports are one of the fundamental pieces of college and if they are not played, revenue loss will be detrimental when it comes to funding and cash flow. Aside from that, universities ride on the passion and excitement created by athletics.

While Georgia State is not a top-tier Division 1 school, they have been making sure their student-athletes are safe.

 “Student-athletes’ safety will always be priority No. 1 and that will be no different this year,” Holmes said. “Safety will be what everything is measured on going into the season.”

If student-athlete safety is not a priority, why are we even playing? 

In 2020, safety from COVID-19 is the only thing that matters. If any individual student-athlete or member of the athletics departments contracts the virus, there will be major consequences on not only the university but the staff who allowed it to happen.  

While fans are essential to the athletic experience, we should compromise the inherent flaws that the pandemic proposes.