One by one, some of the country’s collegiate athletic conferences are opting to forgo their 2020 football seasons, notably the Big 10 and PAC-12.
Representative Mike Rogers (R-AL), whose district includes SEC member Auburn University, called on administrators to proceed with college football this year.
During an interview with Mobile, AL radio’s FM Talk 106.5, the Alabama Republican lawmaker argued for not just athletics, but schooling to get back to regular order and noted the low risks of infection in a controlled setting like school.
“I think that we need to get back to regular order,” Rogers said. “I think schools need to re-open. It’s in the kids’ best interest health-wise, not only education but health-wise to be back in school. I think that universities need to be back in school. I think that if kids are worried, they can do the virtual option. Every school is offering hybrid classes.”
“I think football season needs to go on,” he continued. “It’s like[University of Alabama head football coach Nick] Saban said — they’ve had a 2% infection rate, which is far below the general population. These kids are much more apt to get the infection hanging out with their friends and other people than they are on the football field, where they’re taking great precautions to keep everything disinfected and safe.”
“And again, it’s part of getting back to normalcy,” Rogers added. “Our country needs to see that, and I’m all for it. I don’t care what the MAC Conference does or some other goofy conference. I think the SEC needs to play football.”
Rogers also addressed the potential legal liability that institutions of learning could face if they proceeded with football and school. He said it was his view it would be difficult to win a negligence argument in court.
“I’m a recovering attorney, as you know, and it would be really hard to convince a jury to convict the school of negligence for having a football program,” he said. “You’re not compelling a kid to play. These kids have all been told if they don’t want to play, they can keep their scholarship. These kids want to play more than we want to see them play. They live for this stuff. It would just be really hard in the middle of a global pandemic to assign responsibility and liability to a school for having class or having football, just like I think it would be hard to assign responsibility to an employer if somebody gets infected at work.”
Follow Jeff Poor on Twitter @jeff_poor