Monday, March 16, 2020

The NCAA, COVID-19 and a long-term solution

By Steve Kallas and Janelle Allbritton (posted by Rick Morris)

Kudos to the NCAA for deciding that those student-athletes who play (now cancelled) spring sports should get an extra year of eligibility. To deprive seniors, who have worked their entire college careers to get the point they are at, the opportunity to play a season and, possibly, a postseason, would be unfair and against the spirit of college athletics.

Having said that, it would be equally unfair for the NCAA to not allow seniors who have just completed their winter season the same opportunity that spring athletes are getting. While the cancellation of the men’s and women’s NCAA basketball championships are the best example of this, there are plenty of other sports and thousands of athletes in those sports who deserve, along with all of the basketball players, the right to compete in the highlight of their respective seasons -- to play in conference championships and the NCAA tournaments (if good enough).

This should really be a no-brainer.

There is little difference between not playing at all (spring 2020 student-athletes) and playing your regular season with no chance to participate in conference championships and then national championships (winter 2019-20 student-athletes). Many people (not all) understand the time, effort and dedication that it takes to be a college athlete in today’s world. For those who don’t, it’s akin to having a full-time job -- while carrying a college course load at the same time. A difficult task (ask anyone who does it). And please save the jokes about players who don’t go to class, players who are just waiting to go “pro.”

On the overall scheme of things, that’s an incredibly small percentage of NCAA athletes.

While those winter athletes did have an advantage over the spring athletes in that they did get to play a regular season, the reality is that everyone is playing with the hope of participating in conference and, maybe, national championships. The “postseason” is what makes for the season-long goals and, in this season, to be deprived of that opportunity hurts all winter athletes, virtually to the same extent as spring athletes.

So, it’s time for the NCAA, an organization often under fire, to do the right thing and extend the extra year of eligibility to include all winter athletes.

Then, and only then, will the NCAA have done right by ALL of their student athletes.


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