Gov. Ron DeSantis unambiguously endorsed the return of college football Monday, noting that nothing in life comes without risk.
“They want to play, and I support their efforts to do so. Not just football, but all men’s and women’s sports,” DeSantis said on Monday. “There’s never anything that you do in life that’s risk free.”
The Governor had addressed the topic previously Monday, telling radio host Clay Travis that he believes “without question,” the Atlantic Coast Conference and Southeastern Conference should play football this fall, an open question in light of the Big Ten and other conferences looking to opt out.
“My sense would be the vast, vast majority of players would want to be out there and play,” DeSantis told Travis, a friendly host who agrees with him on ramping up revenue sports sooner rather than later.
DeSantis said: “everybody else is playing,” referring to pro sports such as Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association, and Major League Soccer.
“There’s no reason we can’t play high school and college athletics,” DeSantis said, adding that ACC and SEC schools by and large “do want to play.”
“We’ve gotta play,” DeSantis said, again urging the interconference Florida/Florida State rivalry game to emerge despite schedules not contemplating such at this time.
DeSantis expressed confidence that “most of our boards of trustees” would back the resumption of athletics, in contrast to apparent squeamishness in the Big Ten and elsewhere.
“They should reach out to all the Big Ten athletes and say ‘hey, we’re playing’,” the Governor said, discussing potential poaching from universities located in areas where games will be suspended.
Regarding the novel coronavirus, DeSantis noted “very few of the folks” in the college-aged cohort have real symptoms from COVID-19.
“They usually have no symptoms or very mild symptoms … most of these athletes never end up getting ill,” the Governor said.
Gov. DeSantis’ position was echoed, meanwhile, by his immediate predecessor, U.S. Sen. Rick Scott.
“Most players want to play. We fans want to watch. University presidents and conferences should ABSOLUTELY NOT cancel college football this year. Athletics play a hugely important role in our national psyche. The schools and the conferences can figure out how to do this safely,” Scott tweeted Monday afternoon.
A.G. Gancarski has been a correspondent for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. In 2018, he was a finalist for an Association of Alternative Newsweeklies "best political column." He can be reached at AG@FloridaPolitics.com.