FILE PHOTO: Fans attend a protest, staged by parents of Ohio State football players, against the cancelation of the Big Ten Conference’s football season due to coronavirus disease (COVID-19) concerns outside Ohio State’s stadium in Columbus, Ohio, U.S., August 29, 2020. REUTERS/Megan Jelinger/File Photo

THE NEUTRAL ZONE

The Big Ten conference called an audible on its football season, announcing Wednesday it will play games starting Oct. 23 after initially postponing the season. 

The conference will require the players and others on the field for practices and games to undergo testing and record the results prior to each practice or game. “Everyone associated with the Big Ten should be very proud of the groundbreaking steps that are now being taken to better protect the health and safety of the student-athletes and surrounding communities,” said Dr. Jim Borchers, Ohio State University’s team physician and co-chair of the Return to Competition Task Force medical subcommittee, in a Wednesday statement.

President Donald Trump praised the Big Ten for the decision, stating in a tweet that it was his “great honor to have helped.” Trump likely was referring to pushing the conference to play in his press conferences, tweets and phone calls to Big Ten officials. 

Other lawmakers, such as Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), questioned the ability to hold a season safely. “If we’ve had to scrap the first two (Virginia Tech) games … why are we working so hard to continue fall football if the results, at least in the ACC, are such that grave questions about the ability to do it safely are so obvious?” Kaine asked. 

MEDIA PERSPECTIVE

Big Ten revives football season in Trump-backed turnaround – Politico – 9/16/2020
Wednesday’s revival delivers a victory for President Donald Trump, who has demanded sports resume in an athletic conference that represents several swing states ahead of Election Day. 

Trump Pressured Return Of Big Ten Season To Boost His Standing In Swing States – Talking Points Memo – 9/16/2020
President Trump couldn’t help but pat himself on the back shortly after the Big Ten Conference announced on Wednesday that it approved a reversal of its recent decision to postpone the season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Big Ten Conference Will Begin College Football Season After All – The Federalist – 9/16/2020
The conference, which houses top football schools such as Ohio State and Michigan, previously said they would not be playing again until Spring of 2021, but reversed the decision after the “Big Ten Return To Competition Task Force” assisted in creating health and safety measures to protect players and coaches, especially those who might be at higher risk if they contract COVID-19.

Trump and Biden Seek an Electoral Edge From an Unlikely Source: College Football – New York Times – 9/12/2020
Taken together, the president’s lobbying campaign, amplified with Twitter blasts, and the advertisements of former vice president Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Democratic presidential nominee, blaming Trump for empty stadiums signal the potential potency of college football among some voters in the coming election.

INFLUENCER PERSPECTIVE

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