An idea that sounded preposterous at first seems to be gaining more momentum around the country.
Playing high school and college football in the spring? It seems to be more of a possibility each day, although it’s obviously not by choice.
The COVID-19 pandemic is not letting up -- and with the start of practice for the traditional football season in the fall roughly a month away, now administrators at both the college and high school levels are putting in place alternative solutions, in case things still haven’t improved by August or September.
Other options, such as delaying the season or playing solely conference games, are on the table, but moving the season to the spring is perhaps a more attractive option.
Again, administrators have no choice but to consider the spring, since no football season at all will lead to crippling financial implications (think of how many millions of dollars football brings to a university or how much money a Friday night football game brings to a high school, all the non-revenue sports that would have to be cut, scholarship opportunities that will be lost, etc.).
However, such a move won’t be without major hassles.
Here are five serious issues administrators at colleges and high schools will have to address if they are forced to move football to the spring.
1.) Physical/mental toll
It’s obvious the physical toll football takes on the body for players, and the 90- or 100-hour workweeks coaches put in during the heart of their seasons tends to be well-publicized. If football is able to be played in the spring, that likely means the pandemic is more under control and things would return to a normal schedule in the fall of 2021. If a spring football season ends in late May or June, that leaves barely two months before another season FULLY starts up again with practices. That wouldn’t be easy.
The spring season is typically the heaviest time for recruiting, whether that means coaches hitting the road to meet with prospects or players putting together a highlight reel from all their action on the field during the fall. If there is a spring season and then things resume as normal and there is also a fall season in 2021, this would greatly impact a recruiting cycle, if not eliminate it. There surely would have to be some temporary modifications and allowances by the NCAA.
3.) What about early enrollment?
Another fad that has increased over the years with elite high school football players is those students graduating early and enrolling at their college programs in January after the fall high school season ends. The motive is to acclimate themselves to the playbook, be in attendance for spring practice, and in general, get a head start.
Would early enrollees be allowed if there are two high school and college seasons in the 2021 calendar year? If so, would players with the option of enrolling early simply choose to skip the spring high school season in order to get ready for college in the fall? According to the Detroit News, there are some blue-chip recruits who would likely skip a high school spring season in order to enroll early in college.
4.) Kids might have to choose between football and other sports.
There are many athletes who play football in the fall, but actually have a future lined up to play another sport such as basketball, baseball, lacrosse, soccer or track and field. Those athletes could choose to focus on that other sport at the club or high school level in the spring instead of coming out for football.
5.) What would happen to the NFL Draft?
The NFL is largely excluded from the discussion of spring football, because it’s a league with professional athletes that has a union and isn’t quite as dependent on fans in the stadium for revenue -- since the NFL has a $3 billion TV rights deal.
But the big offseason cash cow for the league, the annual NFL Draft held in April, could be impacted.
If colleges play football in the spring, would the NFL move the draft? Or would it remain in the spring and be right in the middle of a potential college season?
According to Dan Wolken of USA Today, the NFL has already said it wouldn’t be interested in moving the draft in order to accommodate an adjusted college season.
Even if the NFL did move the draft to the summer, it would be roughly a month before the 2021 season.
That would be quite a hurried process to sign draft picks and help them get their feet wet into the organization and community.
What do you think about the idea of having college and high school football played in the spring? Let us know in the comments below.