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Nothing is more “American” than Big Ten College football. The annual highlight of this popular midwest football conference is the Ohio State-Michigan contest every November, often referred to as “The Game.”  Michigan has won 11 national titles; Ohio State has won eight. Their annual rivalry, which began in 1897, has been a sports highlight for the past 50 years. Both college stadiums seat over 100,000.
“The Game,” along with all the other big stadium, full capacity, high TV-rated Big Ten football contests this fall, have been cancelled due to the coronavirus.
Joining the Big Ten in cancelling the entire 2020 season is another premier athletic conference, the Pac-12, including UCLA, U.S.C., Stanford, Oregon, and Washington.
Dr. Doug Aukeman, Senior Associate Athletic Director for Sports Medicine at Oregon State, added there was a concern about “some emerging data about some health risks that affect athletes and, specifically, cardiac side effects of potential COVID infections. We don’t know enough about it, so we became more concerned about that.”
The cardiac issue mentioned refers to a report of 12 college athletes with myocarditis (an inflammation in the middle layer of the heart) cited as a complication from COVID-19. It should be noted those 12 cases are among more than 480,000 National College Athletic Association athletes across the country or 0.0025 percent.
The morning before the anticipated announcement by the Big Ten and Pac-12, President Trump remarked, “These football players are very young, strong people, and physically, I mean they’re physically in extraordinary shape” and said cancelling the season “would be a tragic mistake.”
The economic impact not only will be felt by the colleges themselves, but by all of the ancillary businesses that count on these football games in order to have successful years.
Economic Implosion
According to Kantar, a data consulting company, college football generated about $3 billion over the past two years with most of it coming from power conferences like the Big Ten and the Pac-12. Major media outlets stand to lose over $1 billion in ad revenues.
But the real “personal” impact the cancellations will cause is that countless numbers of small businesses in towns and cities normally filled with enthusiastic fans will be empty.
Mike Arthur, Senior VP at Veritone, a leading sports marketing company, responded to the cancellations: “When we talk about the economic impact, you take it all the way down to – pick the college town, understand the impact of sales tax revenue and then just take it straight up from there.”
TREND FORECAST: As we had forecast in February and March when universities began closing down, many college towns will become ghost towns… Rust Belt 2.0 cities.
 In addition, manufacturers of college sports gear along with sports-related retail clothing will suffer sharp declines in sales.
On the media front, billions will be lost in advertising revenue. Adding it all up, it is just one more death blow from the coronavirus that’s not only sinking economies, businesses, and workers deeper into financial despair, it’s sucking the joy out of the lives of both athletes and fans.
PUBLISHER’S NOTE: Again, it makes little scientific sense to end sports in fear the virus will devastate and kill young people. According to Dr. Scott Atlas, Senior Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution and the former Chief of Neuroradiology at Stanford University Medical Center, “Young adults and children in normal health have almost no risk of any serious illness from COVID-19.”

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