President Donald Trump said Tuesday that college football conferences were making a terrible mistake by preparing to cancel their season during the coronavirus pandemic.
“I think football’s making a tragic mistake,” he said.
The president commented in an interview with Fox Sports Radio host Clay Travis after reports signaled that the Big Ten and Pac-12 conferences were prepared to cancel their seasons. No final decisions have been made.
The president noted that a “tiny percentage” of people with coronavirus got seriously ill, stressing that this included primarily the elderly rather than healthy athletes.
“These football players are very young, strong people. Physically they’re in extraordinary shape, so they’re not going to have a problem,” Trump said. “You’re not going to see people dying.”
The president joked that some of the linemen in football might have a little extra body fat, and also joked about his own age and weight
“Isn’t it wonderful that I am a perfect physical specimen?” he joked. “So great.”
The president recalled personally attending the NCAA College Football Playoff national championship game in January 2020 between Louisiana State University (LSU) and Clemson University of South Carolina, and an LSU game against Alabama in November.
“When I went to that game it was incredible. I went to a couple of them,” he said. “And I never really did the big-time college football. I went to an Ivy League school. It wasn’t really quite the same.”
He recalled the “massive” stadiums for college football, noting he was impressed by crowds that were even larger than the NFL.
“It’s brilliant football. It’s great football, the atmosphere. There’s nothing like it,” he said.
He said that college football would likely be affected by the loss of the huge crowds.
“You can’t have empty seats,” Trump said. “I’m not sure college football can do it, but we’ll have to see.”