The Big Ten Conference canceling the fall football season could be an “enormous mistake for the kids,” Rep. Anthony Gonzalez, R-Ohio, said Monday.
Gonzalez, a former NFL wide receiver-turned-congressman, told USA Today that taking away college athletes’ ability to play would have a negative effect on their learning ability.
“I learned more in that college football environment than I did in any classroom or in any other environment that I've ever been in and I know that I'm not alone in that. So, to take that opportunity away from these kids, many of whom come from some of the most difficult backgrounds that this country has to offer, I think is catastrophic for them,” Gonzalez said.
“The risk is obviously there. But I think that if you're in an environment where coaches want to coach, players want to play and parents of players want their kids to play that, at the very least, you need to create the option.”
For those who choose to opt-out, the former Ohio State star said that players should be able to retain their year of eligibility. He also wondered whether college athletes face an additional risk by playing.
“The risk of playing to me and catching the virus doesn't appear to be different from the risk of being on campus and catching the virus,” he told USA Today. “The world we're living in isn't a world where you're choosing between playing football with COVID risk and not playing football with no COVID risk.”
He added that if players aren’t playing football, then their ability to get tested every day or every other day goes down. He argued that the odds of players’ ability to catch the virus go down if they’re with players who are getting routinely tested.
The Big Ten Conference is reportedly expected to vote Tuesday about whether to play in the fall, push the schedule to the spring or cancel the season altogether.