Big Ten football prevails amid COVID-19 concerns


Photo taken by Megan Baker.

Megan Baker, Staff Writer

On Oct. 23, fans rushed to their TVs to watch Wisconsin beat Illinois 45-7 to kick off the start of the Big Ten football season. The game took place in Wisconsin’s empty stadium due to safety regulations put in place as a result of concern surrounding the spread of COVID-19. In the following weeks, the season has prevailed amid COVID-19 concerns and quarantines. 

The Big Ten football season was originally postponed until 2021; however that decision was reversed in September alongside the announcement that the season would consist of a mere eight conference-only games. Now about halfway through the season, the past few weeks have been filled with excitement, triumph, upset, and even uncertainty for the fans everywhere.

“There’s not much to look forward to this year, so football games are exciting to get a sense of normalcy in these crazy times,” said Michigan State Junior Justin Baker.

Fans and especially students everywhere are overjoyed at the opportunity to watch and root on their teams, even if it means they can’t do it in person. Spectators and fans are not allowed at the games in order to prioritize the safety of players, staff, and fans. 

“With the cases rising it’s definitely worrying to have so many people altogether,” said Baker, “I’m sure they’re doing everything they can to be safe, but it’s still concerning.”

 In contrast, many other conferences are continuing to allow fans to attend the games rather than merely watch from the safety of their homes. On Nov. 7, fans dressed in blue, gold, and green rushed the field, after a Notre Dame victory over Clemson in double overtime, neglecting social distancing practices and upsetting many officials and staff.  

Notre Dame president Rev. John I. Jenkins released a statement, saying, “It was very disappointing to see evidence of widespread disregard of our health protocols at many gatherings.”

The disregard for safety demonstrated by students alongside the other COVID-19 scares within the schools solidifies that the decision to not allow spectators during Big Ten games was certainly for the best. Regardless of the safety measures taken, teams and programs are still having positive cases within them, raising even more concern. 

Recently, the University of Maryland’s football season was put on pause following 30 people within the football program testing positive for COVID-19 over a two week period. Their games against Michigan State and Ohio State were cancelled as a result; however, the team is back to practice once again as of Nov. 23. 

“The last two weeks have been trying for everyone associated with our football program,” University of Maryland Athletic Director Damon Evans recently said in a press release. “But I am proud of the resiliency and positive outlook our team has had.”

Nonetheless, amid safety concerns and positive cases shaking up schedules and plans throughout all of college football, the seasons prevail in spite of opposition and controversy. 

“We can only hope that things will get better soon,” said Baker. “Everyone wants things to just go back to the way that they were, with tailgates and packed stadiums. But for now, that’s unfortunately not possible.”