COVID-19 will make it very challenging for American football to be played in 2020, and we’re already seeing the sport affected for next season.
The latest comes in the form of college football conferences altering their schedules to have conference-only games. The Big Ten became the first conference to announce it would feature conference-only schedules in 2020, while other Power 5 conferences (ACC, Pac-12, Big 12 and SEC) are expected to follow suit. The expectation is that the leagues will end up playing about 10 games vs. a normal 12-game regular-season schedule.
The reasoning behind this is allowing leagues to have more flexibility with their schedules in the event COVID-19 impacts games.
So if Ohio State (Big Ten) and Alabama (SEC) were set to play in Week 1 but the game was canceled, it would be tough for both schools and their respective leagues to find a new date for a game.
But if Ohio State’s Week 1 opponent was Minnesota and that game was canceled, it would be easier for the Big Ten to change schedules around and have the two play at a later date.
We could see something similar play out in the NFL. Because there are 32 teams, it would be easier for the league to reschedule any games that are canceled, especially if there isn’t a 16-game season but instead something like 12-14 games.
So if the Bengals play the Chargers in Week 1 but it gets canceled due to COVID-19 and there are extra bye weeks within the regular season, the league can move this game to said bye week and potentially move around other games.
And because fan attendance at NFL games will likely be severely limited, if not prohibited outright, it will be easy for the league to change schedules around in the event COVID-19 impacts certain games and not risk losing a large chunk of fan attendance.
Whatever happens, it’s pretty clear that football in 2020 will look drastically different than what we’re used to. Let’s just hope there’s a football season at all, which is now far from a guarantee.