CLAIM: President Trump claimed during Tuesday night’s debate against Democrat nominee Joe Biden, that he “brought back football.”
VERDICT: MOSTLY TRUE.
First, here is what Trump said in response to a question about coronavirus lockdowns:
“People want their places open. They want to get back to their lives. They’ll be careful, but they want their schools open. I’m the one that brought back football. By the way, I brought back Big Ten football. It was me and I’m very happy to do it. The people of Ohio are very proud of me.”
On September 1st, Trump tweeted that he had just had “a very productive conversation with Kevin Warren, Commissioner of the Big 10 Conference, about immediately starting up Big 10 football.”
Had a very productive conversation with Kevin Warren, Commissioner of the Big Ten Conference, about immediately starting up Big Ten football. Would be good (great!) for everyone – Players, Fans, Country. On the one yard line!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 1, 2020
The substance of the conversation was reportedly centered on the availability of testing. That, more than anything else, was the chief reason why the Big 10 elected to postpone the season in August.
As of Austin Ward of Lettermen Row reported at the time, “The White House may be willing to assist the Big Ten in designating part of its supply of new, and cheaper, saliva-based testing to the conference, per Ward. The White House purchased 150 million rapid tests last week from Abbott Laboratories.”
As Forbes reported, the development of rapid testing, specifically including rapid testing developed by the aforementioned Abbott Labortatories, upon whom the White House bestowed emergency FDA approval and purchased 150 million tests from, played a crucial role in the Big 10 reversing their decision.
“Companies that include Abbott Laboratories and Becton Dickinson are just two of the world’s biggest diagnostic test makers that have launched new rapid tests that are fast and also much cheaper than Covid-19 tests first available when the virus began its spread six months ago,” Forbes reported. “Both companies have been awarded emergency use authorizations from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for their products since early August when the Big Ten decided to postpone its football season.”
However, when asked, Abbott Laboratories would not confirm that they were working with the Big 10. Furthermore, an anonymous Big 10 university president said that the president did not lead to the conference changing their stance.
“President Trump had nothing to do with our decision and did not impact the deliberations,” the anonymous president said. “In fact, when his name came up, it was a negative, because no one wanted this to be political.”
While the Big 10 would never publicly admit that the president had saved their season, making it impossible to ever really know how big an effect Trump had on the Big 10’s decision. The proximity of Trump’s meeting with Warren and the development of the rapid testing (made possible in large part by the FDA emergency approval) is a bit too convenient for Trump’s actions to have had no impact on the decision.
Trump’s claim can then accurately be graded as, mostly true.