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A spring college football season reeks of ‘health and safety’ hypocrisy

A spring season would compromise the ensuing fall season, and one diminished season is enough.
USF's defensive players converge during the early portion of Tuesday morning's practice on campus. For now, the Bulls and their American Athletic Conference peers are slated to play an eight-game league schedule this fall. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times]
USF's defensive players converge during the early portion of Tuesday morning's practice on campus. For now, the Bulls and their American Athletic Conference peers are slated to play an eight-game league schedule this fall. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times] [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]
Published Aug. 15, 2020
Updated Aug. 15, 2020

The college sports debate du jour has shifted to the viability of a spring football season. Depending on one’s viewpoint, it’s a concept steeped in desperation, dollars, practicality, politics or a combination.

Cyberspace already is diluted with opinions. Me? I don’t like the idea, for myriad reasons. Among them: Play a condensed spring season and you compromise the fall of 2021, and one compromised autumn of college ball is plenty for me, thank you.

Related: Purdue's Jeff Brohm proposes spring college football plan

But why take my word for it? Plenty of far more authoritative voices have spoken out against the idea of a spring season. Among them: Urban Meyer, ESPN’s Louis Riddick (a former NFL player and front-office executive) and College GameDay host Rece Davis.

ESPN’s Paul Finebaum said he’d be “shocked” if a Power Five spring season transpired. Even Steve Spurrier, who has coached in two professional spring leagues, isn’t fond of the concept.

“You can’t ask a player to play two seasons in a calendar year,” Meyer said in a recent interview with the Big Ten Network. “When I first heard that, I said that. I don’t see that happening, when I hear that. The body, in my very strong opinion, is not made to play two seasons within a calendar year.”

Which is to say that a spring season — even an abbreviated one — flies in the face of the health-and-safety narrative that has prompted two Power Five conferences (and some smaller leagues) to cancel their fall seasons. If that is all about the physical welfare of athletes, wouldn’t bodily wear and tear be as worrisome as the coronavirus?

And wouldn’t the demands of two seasons in a year be exploiting athletes, whose voices carry more resonance and leverage than ever?

Call me cynical, but I find it dubious that some of the same voices that have trumpeted the demands and concerns conveyed by players connected to the #WeAreUnited movement (spawned in the Pac-12) seem to be promoting a spring season. The disconnect is glaring.

Speaking of player empowerment, who’s to say a similar uprising wouldn’t occur if an across-the-board spring season were implemented? Those who have affixed themselves to the #WeWantToPlay movement and lobbied passionately to play this fall just might boycott spring football.

A ton of draft-caliber players would opt out regardless.

Two bankable assertions: A) The NFL won’t tweak its calendar to accommodate a spring college season, and B) even the most marginal draft prospects would forego it. Two viable USF prospects, cornerbacks KJ Sails and Mike Hampton, were noncommittal Tuesday when asked if they’d participate in a spring season.

The most valid reason to even ponder spring football would be to rescue athletic programs from financial Armageddon, but that still wouldn’t offset the health and safety issue. Such a season would be contrived and contracted, and woefully lacking star power.

No thanks. Instead of kicking off in spring, I’d just as soon punt to the fall.

Contact Joey Knight at jknight@tampabay.com. Follow @TBTimes_Bulls.