Jul 08 2020

More Colleges Cancel Fall Sports as COVID-19 Cases Rise: An Opportunity for Esports?

A growing number of colleges and universities are canceling their athletic programs for the fall.

In late June, Williams CollegeBowdoin College, and Morehouse College were among the first colleges to reverse their decisions to restart college sports in the fall.

Despite the cancellation, Morehouse will still be honoring athletic scholarships. “Like all of the decisions we’ve made related to COVID-19, this was a difficult one but was made with the health and well-being of our students and community in mind,” David Thomas, the president of Morehouse College, wrote in a statement on June 26. “It follows my intention to maintain a safe campus in hopes that our students will be able to return in August.”

The decisions came after 47 student-athletes tested positive for the virus at Clemson University in late June. Louisiana State University also recently quarantined about a quarter of its football players because the athletes had either contracted the virus or were in contact with someone who had.

As the number of COVID-19 cases rises in many states, a growing number of colleges and universities are announcing plans to cancel sports in the fall — with some pausing sports for the entire academic year.

With that said, there are several Division I schools and other colleges that are still sticking with their decisions to resume sports in the fall. Careful planning, data analytics and emerging technologies can help keep student-athletes safe during training and games.

MORE ON EDTECH: Learn about these emerging technologies for tracking COVID-19 in higher ed.

The long-term consequences of college sports cancellations look dire. If American universities and colleges do not resume college sports during the pandemic, schools could face billions of dollars in revenue loss.

The good news is that there is an emerging alternative to college sports that is lucrative an and safe: esports.

Despite budget shortfalls, several higher education institutions are continuing to invest in esports programs due to its potential to attract prospective students. “Because of an economic downturn, [universities and colleges] need to be even more competitive than they have been,” says Joe McAllister, a learning environment adviser at CDW•G. “There is a direct correlation between having an esports program and students wanting to come to your school.”

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