We are all experiencing what we hope is a once-in-a-lifetime challenge. Words like quarantine, social distancing, herd immunity and a bunch of others are terms we used in an abstract way but never really thought about how they could impact our lives. Well, we all know now that they are more than abstract concepts but, in fact, real world challenges that we are all dealing with.
The Coronavirus is a challenge we all hope will move along pretty quickly but the reality is that, even if the pandemic is on the optimistic side of the estimates, the truth is that our lives may never be the same again.
My biggest fear is that we are going to see a fundamental change in college athletics. We have already seen the impact that losing the men’s basketball tournament is having. The real specter is the possibility that college football may also be hit, and hit hard.
There is no nice way to say it. College football has been paying the bills for all of us for a very long time. The fact that the hard work of young, predominantly black, male athletes are footing the bill for the sport we love is a topic for another day but the reality that we may see if the college football schedule changes drastically if not cancelled.
College football is much different from the other “big-time” sports that are being suspended or cancelled. College football desperately needs the money made from ticket sales. Of course, they also need the income from the TV networks, but the money generated in ticket sales is the difference between a program supporting itself and the other sports at a school and not being able to pay the bills.
When a big school like Michigan (with it’s 100,000 plus seats) adds a home football game it increases their athletic income by somewhere between 5 and 6 million dollars. When you do the math the idea of playing in front of an empty college stadium is pretty scary for their athletic department.
I recently saw the budget for LSU from a few years ago, and for the sake of easy math, their football team showed a profit of $50 million plus. Their men’s basketball team showed a profit of a couple million and every other sport lost money, and I mean big money. When I did a quick scan of the numbers it was pretty clear that when you add up the two profit makers and compare that number to the amount of money lost by all the other sports, they just about balanced each other out.
So what happens if football loses a home game or two, or God forbid, lost an entire season what does that man for softball programs around the country?
Nothing good, that’s for sure!