Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - US Big Ten conference says no to sport before 2021

US Big Ten conference says no to sport before 2021

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Michigan’s football stadium will sit empty this year after the US college Big Ten called off sports in 2020. AFP

US Big Ten conference says no to sport before 2021

US college sport’s elite Big Ten Conference on Tuesday voted to postpone all sport until 2021 because of coronavirus fears, a key decision expected to be followed by other colleges.

In a statement, Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren said the decision – which means abandoning the conference’s hugely lucrative and popular autumn gridiron season – was taken with the safety of athletes in mind.

“The mental and physical health and welfare of our student-athletes has been at the center of every decision we have made regarding the ability to proceed forward,” Warren said in a statement.

“As time progressed and after hours of discussion with our Big Ten Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases and the Big Ten Sports Medicine Committee, it became abundantly clear that there was too much uncertainty regarding potential medical risks to allow our student-athletes to compete this fall.”

Warren added colleges hoped sport could return next year.

“It doesn’t mean that we’re giving up forever,” he said.

The Big Ten is the oldest top tier collegiate conference in the US. Its 14 members include several powerhouses in the world of US college American football.

The Big Ten conference’s decision could prompt the four other major college sport conferences – the ACC, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC – to abandon their autumn seasons. ESPN reported Tuesday that the Pac-12 had voted to scrap the autumn schedule.

As well as gridiron, the Big Ten decision means sports such as cross-country, field hockey, soccer and volleyball will also be shelved.

Political football

The prospect of the coronavirus prompting the college gridiron season to be wiped out in its entirety has become a political football in the US.

The college gridiron season is one of the pillar’s of the US sporting landscape, with games regularly taking place before packed large-capacity stadiums and enjoying a national profile on a par with professional US sports.

On Tuesday, President Donald Trump told Fox Sports Radio it would be a “tragic mistake” if colleges voted to halt gridiron.

“These football players are very young, strong people, and physically, I mean they’re physically in extraordinary shape,” Trump said in the interview.

“So they’re not going to have a problem, you’re not going to see people, you know, could there be? Could it happen? But I doubt it.

“So I think football is making a tragic mistake.”

Prominent college football stars had also urged authorities to press ahead with the season, in a co-ordinated series of announcements on social media.

Enduring concerns about the long-term impact of contracting Covid-19, irrespective of age and overall health, weighed heavily on the Big Ten decision.

At least 800 college football players have tested positive for Covid-19, according to a tally posted by Sports Illustrated.

US media reports said administrators had been particularly concerned by evidence that a rare heart condition, myocarditis or inflammation of the heart muscle, had been found in several college athletes.

“There have been some concerns raised for that very reason: Do you not have uneasiness about having athletes participating knowing that you don’t know what that longer-range outlook is? The answer is of course, yes,” John MacKnight, the head primary care team physician at the University of Virginia, told ESPN.

“We don’t have enough information to say this is the likelihood that this will or will not happen.”


  • Hungarian exposes 90 to Covid in Siem Reap

    The Ministry of Health has discovered 90 people who have been exposed directly or indirectly to a Hungarian man infected with Covid-19. They all are required to quarantine at home and the hospital. The ministry is searching for other affected people. Among the 90, one is the

  • PM warns of ‘new Cold War’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said the possibility of a so-called new Cold War has become a significant concern and that all countries have to reject outright, any attempt to allow history to tragically repeat itself. He made the remarks in a speech during 75th Session

  • PM: West unfair to Cambodia

    Prime Minister Hun Sen released a message celebrating the International Day of Peace on Monday, saying that some major powers and western countries had been systemically cooperating to put political pressure on Cambodia as they did in the 1970s and 1980s. Hun Sen said pressuring

  • ‘Bad news is an investor’s best friend’ – unlocking investment potential in Cambodia

    It is time to shop. Economic woes provide good pickings for investors if they know where to look The poem If, written by English Nobel laureate poet and novelist Rudyard Kipling for his son circa 1895, is widely perceived as fatherly advice for John who would

  • PM requests Russia’s Covid vaccine

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has requested that Russia provide Cambodia with its Covid-19 vaccine after the former announced it planned on mass vaccinating its population next month. The request came on Thursday through the prime minister’s Facebook page as he met with Anatoly Borovik,

  • First ‘mobile kitchen’ in Cambodia enters service

    A catering company recently rolled out Cambodia’s first “mobile kitchen” – a $50,000 container capable of serving up to 200 people at a time. The kitchen is the brainchild of Seng Hok Heng Catering Services. At 4.4m-high, 6.8m-long and 2.4m-wide (expandable to 6.8m), the kitchen is equipped