President Donald Trump is calling for college football games to resume this season, as athletic conferences consider canceling or postponing play due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“The student-athletes have been working too hard for their season to be cancelled,” the President tweeted on Monday, adding the hashtag #WeWantToPlay.
Another tweet simply said: “Play College Football!”
Trump’s calls for college football to resume come amid a larger push by his administration to get academic institutions – both in primary and higher education – to reopen in the fall. They also come amid reports that two of the “Power Five” conferences – the Big Ten and Pac-12 – are expected to cancel their 2020 football season games, according to reports from multiple sports news outlets.
Leaders from college sports’ Power Five conferences discussed the football season and other fall sports over the weekend. Though the academic year is approaching, no decision has been reached yet. The discussions are expected to continue over the next few days.
In his tweets, Trump shared a message from Clemson University football quarterback Trevor Lawrence, one star athlete among a group of college football players pushing for games this fall.
In his message, Lawrence called for the conferences to allow student athletes to play football this season, establish universal health and safety protocols, and allow players to opt out of the season, among other measures.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany confirmed Monday afternoon that Trump would like to see college football “safely resume.”
“A lot of these college athletes work their whole lives to get four years; sometimes they’re redshirted an extra year if they’re lucky. They work their whole lives for this moment, and he’d like to see them have a chance to live out their dreams,” she added.
In June at Clemson, Lawrence’s school, 28 student athletes and staff, including 23 football players, tested positive for the coronavirus. And nationwide, there is a growing list of college athletes who have tested positive for the virus.
Research shows that 1 in 3 young adults (ages 18 to 25) are at risk of severe Covid-19, with smoking playing a big part in their level of risk.
And though earlier in the outbreak health experts underscored that older adults were most vulnerable to the coronavirus, the proportion of cases in teens and young adults has gone up sixfold, according to the World Health Organization.
Dr. Amesh Adalja, a member of the NCAA’s COVID-19 Advisory Panel, told CNN’s Brooke Baldwin Monday afternoon that college football teams face challenges different from the challenges faced by professional leagues.
Unlike the NHL and the NBA, Adalja said, student athletes do not typically isolate away from their peers at school and compete in a “bubble” cordoned off from the outside world.
“The bubble seems to work, but you can’t do that with students, and I think that people forget that,” he said. “It is not necessarily that they’re getting infected on the field, but they’ll bring what they’ve contracted in the community on to the field.”
Last week, the University of Connecticut canceled its 2020 football season amid growing concerns surrounding Covid-19. Last month, Connecticut officially left the American Athletic Conference and the Huskies were slated to compete as an independent in 2020 in the Football Bowl Subdivision.
The National Junior College Athletic Association announced in July that close-contact fall sports, including football, would move to the spring semester.
CNN’s Kevin Dotson and Hollie Silverman contributed to this report.
CORRECTION: This story has been updated to reflect UConn’s relationship with the Football Bowl Subdivision.