College Sports Face Challenges Amid Pandemic

Jackson Gremmels, Reporter

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, college sports have struggled to find ways for college athletes to compete in a safe environment while providing equal opportunities for all schools. Schedules, playoffs, and tournaments have proven difficult to uphold, and the college sports world is still trying to figure out how seasons can be played in 2021. 

For the first time in decades, many college football teams were forced to play in-conference games only. Schedules are made years in advance, and with travel restrictions and quarantine rules limiting where teams could travel to, the NCAA was forced to reconstruct the schedule. SEC schools played only SEC schools, providing interesting matchups, but leaving the fans yearning for more. Viewers missed out on the exciting, highly-anticipated games featuring teams that only meet once a decade. More games resulted in blowouts, showing the importance of non-conference games. 

Due to the complications associated with COVID-19, many schools were unable to complete a full season.  Ohio State, a powerhouse, only played a total of six games. Still, they were selected to compete in the playoffs. Many fans felt that Ohio State was undeserving of a spot and believed teams that played more games should have received the recognition. 

“I feel that Ohio State should not have gotten a spot. They only played six games, which isn’t enough to get in over schools that went undefeated but played four more games,” said Novato High senior Aidan Black.

 Ultimately, it seems that the playoff committee didn’t use the typical format of a team’s record and schedule to decide who gets a spot. If that were the case, Ohio State would have been left in the dust. Perhaps, the NCAA can atone for this mistake in the coming month. 

Next month, the annual college basketball “March Madness” tourney is set to begin. Last year, the tournament was cancelled due to the pandemic, but this year, the tournament is set to begin on time. It was announced that the tournament will be held in Indiana, presumably keeping the players shielded from the outside world. 

While the football playoffs were marked with scrutiny, the March Madness tournament hopes to go off as normal as possible. Fans across the country are looking forward to creating brackets and enjoying the month-long string of games. However, many question the authenticity of it all.  

Kent Morris, a senior at Novato and big fan of college basketball, expects nothing less than the absolute best. 

“After the cancellation of last year’s tournament, I only want it to be played if we get the authentic experience. I want all 68 teams with the full experience,” Morris said.

COVID-19 has clearly impacted many important facets of life, and college sports have been forced to endure numerous challenges. A return to normalcy will be appreciated by many fans.