Sports

Alvarez: no football student tickets in 2020

Moments like these will have to wait. Shot by Jessi Schoville.

University of Wisconsin-Madison students will have to jump around from the comfort of their own living rooms this fall.

Following the official announcement Wednesday of a 10-game, conference-only Big Ten football schedule, Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez released a statement informing students that season tickets will not be made available for the 2020 season. While the fate of college football in 2020 continues to be unknown, Alvarez adds that “as more updates on the fall season become available, [he] will continue to communicate” with students and fans. Complications remain, but the announcement of a formal schedule does seem to bode well for the chances of a Big Ten football season being played out in the fall.

The decision by Wisconsin (and many schools to follow) to proceed without fans should come as no surprise.  Each of the major professional sports in the United States have resumed play in empty stadiums and the environment has felt ... actually quite normal. Fake crowd noise on broadcasts has been hit-or-miss depending on who you ask, but overall the return to sports has been a delightful distraction from a very trying spring, summer and eventually fall. 

College football, however, is so ingrained in culture and community that it’s hard to imagine the game without tailgates and sold-out stadiums. While Alvarez’s letter takes care of the latter, UW-Madison students will be responsible for gathering safely and appropriately for games this fall. Yes, I and many peers at UW-Madison are disappointed to miss out on experiencing the best college sports town in the United States (according to Scott Van Pelt), but it’s on us to make the right choices so that the next wave of Badgers can be back inside Camp Randall as soon as possible.

In terms of actual football, a fanless season just might work in Wisconsin’s favor. Two of the three toughest teams the Badgers face in 2020 will be on the road as they travel to Michigan on Oct. 31 and Iowa on Nov. 14.

The Badgers do lose some of that home field advantage when hosting Minnesota in late September, but it’s hard to see any intensity being lost in a rivalry matchup like that. Golden Gopher star wide receiver Rashod Bateman announced Tuesday that he would be opting out of the 2020 NCAA season to prepare for the NFL draft, citing “uncertainty around health and safety amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.” Bateman is the second NFL prospect to opt out, following Virginia Tech cornerback Caleb Farley.

While no Wisconsin football players have publicly opted out as of Thursday afternoon, Bateman and Farley’s decisions could be the first of many NFL-hopefuls to forego this upcoming season. Among the notable Badgers eligible for the 2021 NFL draft are junior linebacker Jack Sanborn and junior tight end Jake Ferguson.  Fellow sports editor Joe Rickles broke down #BigTenUnited in further length here, a proposal that Big Ten athletes have crafted to receive further clarity from the NCAA on regulations and leadership.

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