President Donald Trump said Tuesday that the college football season should be played and felt the potential move by major NCAA conferences to postpone or cancel their 2020 seasons would be a "tragic mistake."
On Monday, the Big Ten Conference moved to the verge of voting against playing a fall season, potentially creating a domino effect among Power Five schools to make similar decisions because of concerns from the coronavirus pandemic. The Mountain West announced Monday it would be postponing its 2020 season and the Mid-American Conference on Saturday became the first FBS conference to officially postpone competition until at least the spring.
Trump was interviewed by Clay Travis on Fox Sports' "Outkick the Coverage" radio show Tuesday morning. Trump believes players' age and health make them less vulnerable to the risks, citing "one of the great doctors" he spoke with who supported this rationale but did not name the doctor.
“The (virus) attacks old people very viciously. These football players are very young, strong people, physically," Trump said. "I mean, they’re physically in extraordinary shape. So, they’re not going to have a problem (with the virus). You’re not going to see people – could there be, could it happen? But I doubt it. You’re not going to see people dying. And many people get it and they have... like kids they get it they have the sniffles. Young kids, almost none have a serious problem with it.
“I mean literally, you look, I think they said the state of California almost nobody that’s young had a – like zero had a serious problem with this disease. They get better very quickly, if they get it at all. So, I think football is making a tragic mistake (by not playing)."
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has said that health risks increase with age, which can be exacerbated by underlying conditions. But younger people are not immune. Pac 12 leadership has seen "terrifying" data about myocarditis, a heart condition that has been related to COVID-19, according to an official who requested anonymity when speaking to USA TODAY's Dan Wolken due to the sensitivity of the topic. That official also discussed Michael Ojo, a former Florida State basketball player, who collapsed after practice in Serbia and died of a heart attack at 27, weeks after recovering from COVID-19. It's unclear whether an underlying heart condition played a part in his death.
On Monday, Trump joined the #WeWantToPlay movement by voicing his support for college football players, coaches and fans around the country who are trying to convince university presidents and conference commissioners to salvage the upcoming season.
"The student-athletes have been working too hard for their season to be cancelled," Trump tweeted Monday.
Trump has been an outspoken college football fan, last year attending the NCAA championship game and an Alabama-LSU game.
“When I went to that game, it was incredible,” Trump said Tuesday in the radio interview. "When I went to Alabama and I went to LSU and, you know, these stadiums are massive. You have no idea about that. It’s much bigger crowds than the NFL. In the NFL you have 60 (thousand). And here we had, I think, 115,000 people. And you go to see these games and it’s brilliant football, it’s great football. The atmosphere, there’s nothing like it.”