New York Times Declares College Football ‘Non-Essential’

College Football
Getty Images/Kevork Djansezian

The New York Times has decided that college football is “non-essential,” and shutting it down is a “necessary sacrifice for the nation’s well-being.”

In the paper’s August 29 editorial, the “paper of record” opened, noting that students make sacrifices with their schooling by doing remote learning and wearing masks for the few classes they are allowed to attend. But unfairly, college football players are allowed to “strap on protective gear to do their job.”

The paper went on with more examples of what it feels is unfair:

Never has the inaccuracy of the term ‘student-athlete’ been put in starker relief than in the misguided and dangerous attempt by the Big 12, Atlantic Coast Conference, and Southeastern Conference to press forward with a nearly full season of football games beginning next month — as nonathlete classmates are sent home for their safety.

The Times also complained that the student-athletes are also required to suffer “demands of practice and travel can exceed those of a full-time job. The players do it all, however, for no pay — while schools, coaches, television networks, and the conferences profit.”

The Times scolded college football for preparing to “generate billions in revenue collectively for their universities” even amid the coronavirus.

Regardless, as far as the Times is concerned, there should be no football at all because there is no way the colleges can actually prevent the coronavirus from spreading despite its quarantine policies.

The article described the trials, failures, successes, and policies of various universities, and concluded that it is all just too problematic, even with the high stakes. Football should be canceled:

Canceling or suspending the college football season and other fall sports is no small decision. Billions of dollars in television and ticket sales are at stake, not to mention alumni donations, merchandise sales, athlete eligibility, and even next year’s applicant pool. But it is a far more dangerous game to invite the virus’s spread among vulnerable athletes during what the Big 12 commissioner, Bob Bowlsby, called the “petri dish” of the first few months of school while advocating for a football season.


The excitement of the football season (not to mention countless other aspects of pre-pandemic American life) would be welcome after months of shelter-in-place orders. But with the U.S. death toll continuing to rise and infections exceeding 5.7 million, players and other students contracting the virus as a result of an ill-advised college football season is not a likelihood — it’s a certainty.

According to the Times, college football specifically puts minority students at risk.

“As the nation faces a reckoning over longstanding racial inequities, administrators shouldn’t turn a blind eye to how the coronavirus has disproportionately impacted Black and other minority communities,” the Times exclaimed. “Black and Latino players make up about 60 percent of college football rosters, more than double their representation among the entire United States.

“What message does it send to athletes and their families that they must stay on campus if they want to play football — and bring in dollars for their school — while other students can more safely attend classes via their home computers?” the paper asked.

Not everyone agrees that college football is so non-essential.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Facebook at:


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.