No Football, So Now What?

Fall time and college football go hand-in-hand. But with the rise in COVID-19 cases and no clear direction for it, multiple college conferences decided to refrain from this season. Both the Big Ten and the Pac-12 announced on Aug. 11 that they would be canceling their season; whereas, the ACC, SEC, Big 12, AAC, Sun Belt and Conference USA still plan on having their season. For many college football fans, no football is heartbreaking and practically taking away the best four months of the year. It also casts an unsettling shadow on the college campuses and the local businesses. 

Gameday is not just a day your favorite football teams take on a new rival. It’s a day all your local businesses and restaurants make most of their money during the year. If you are someone who goes to college football games regularly, think about where you go to eat before or after the game, and what shops you always stop in. Well, without the presence of college football in some towns, they won’t get the traffic they usually do, which leads to a greater problem of economic downfall for those businesses and the people who work for them. 

full restaurant with counter showing Photo by Rod Long from Unsplash Time reports, “College sports are a multibillion-dollar industry, but in 2020 they’re being brought down by the same forces that have hobbled the rest of the economy”. Take, for example, a Tallahassee gameday classic like Madison Social. The perfect place to eat, drink and watch the game within walking distance of the stadium. On March 14, after COVID-19 began temporarily shutting restaurants down, Madison Social reported, “Spring break around Doak isn’t completely dead, but normally 30 [to] 40 [percent] down off regular business. That is fine for one week…but a minimum three? That is going to hurt.” Seeing that now businesses have been shut down for months since this and continue to have lower numbers of traffic due to COVID-19, it can only mean worse outcomes. Luckily, Madison Social’s home team of the Florida State Seminoles will be back in Doak for the fall, but with only 25 percent capacity. What happens to business with no football to look forward to for a boost in business? Only time will tell if they can stay open with no college football to bring in traffic. 

College football creates large revenue for athletic programs. Including but not limited to ticket sales, athletic apparel and TV contracts. Citadel.edu explains that this revenue is then used “from paying coaches and staff to offering scholarships for players to help them get educations" and that "each athletic program will spend the money that their football programs bring in. In the end, it’s safe to say that football is still the most lucrative college sport the universities can offer.” The near future of college football programs and college sports in general does not look too good if their teams are not playing. Without this constant revenue, fans cannot count on scholarships for recruits or look forward to a revamp of a stadium. 

COVID-19 has taken a toll on many aspects of life as we know it. But the impact it is taking on the college football world is more than just on the field. The future of local businesses is not shinning too bright these days. What can be suggested, though, is to support your local business in this weird-yet-new-normal time and cross your fingers your favorite gameday business or restaurant is still open next season.

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