On Monday, sportscaster Dan Patrick reported that the Big Ten and Pac-12 will cancel their 2020 football seasons. The report has yet to be confirmed by either conference, but it paints a bleak picture for those holding out hope that a season might still kick off next month. It also comes amid an outcry from college athletes who still want to take the field this fall.
Pitt football players Cal Adomitis, Jaylon Barden, Paris Ford, Damar Hamlin, Bryce Hargrove, Shocky Jacques-Louis, Lucas Krull, Jimmy Morrissey, Kenny Pickett and Rashad Weaver have all publicly voiced their support for the 2020 season to be played, with the majority of them posting messages on Twitter that include the #WeWantToPlay hashtag. Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi also posted a message in support of the movement with a #WeWantToPlay hashtag on Sunday.
I’m excited and ready to play this season. I’m thankful for my teammates and everyone involved in our program who have put forth the effort to make sure we have a season during these chaotic times. #WeWanttoPlay— Jimmy Morrissey (@jimbo_slice123) August 9, 2020
The use of that hashtag seemed to place players like Morrissey and Weaver at odds with other players using the #WeAreUnited hashtag or similar tags and advocating for the prioritization of player health and safety. That was especially the case for Morrissey, who retweeted a message from Ohio State linebacker Tuf Borland speaking out against the #BigTenUnited movement.
However, elements of the two movements formed a united front overnight and called for the creation of a “college football players association,” or a union of college football players. That approach was endorsed by Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields and Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence, among many others, but it is unclear if Pitt’s players support the new strain of the #WeWantToPlay movement or if they want to play but do not have an opinion on unionization.
The move by many players on the Pitt roster to publicly call for the season to go on contrasts with the decisions of others to opt out and focus on the upcoming NFL draft. So far, the only Pitt player to opt out has been Jaylen Twyman, but ACC stars like Miami defensive end Greg Rousseau and Virginia Tech cornerback Caleb Farley have also decided against playing in the coming season.
While college athletes have legitimate reasons to advocate for a 2020 season, football and football-related activities that involve close contact and enclosed spaces have the potential to spread coronavirus, according to medical professionals. Specifically, the Texas Medical Association released a list of activities ranked by their potential to spread the virus on a scale from one to 10. Playing football was ranked as a seven on the scale, working out at a gym was ranked as an eight and going to a sports stadium was ranked as a nine.
Patrick noted in his report that the ACC and the Big 12 are still "on the fence" about the upcoming season, and the SEC has also not given up on playing in 2020. So there is still much that has yet to be decided, and more changes and updates are in the offing.