Just when you think the book is closed, a new chapter in the story of the Big Ten’s postponement of the 2020 college football season seems to be written.
Sunday morning, Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields sent a tweet with a link to his petition to reinstate college football in the Big Ten for the fall.
This cause is close to my heart - please sign: https://t.co/yFKlYE7pP0— Justin Fields (@justnfields) August 16, 2020
The petition reads, “We, the football players of the Big Ten, together with the fans and supporters of college football, request that the Big Ten Conference immediately reinstate the 2020 football season. Allow Big Ten players/teams to make their own choice as to whether they wish to play or opt out this fall season. Allow Big Ten players/teams who choose to opt out of playing a fall season to do so without penalty or repercussion.”
Under the initial paragraph, there is a headline explaining, “why this is important.” It reads:
“We want to play. We believe that safety protocols have been established and can be maintained to mitigate concerns of exposure to COVID-19. We believe that we should have the right to make decisions about what is best for our health and our future. Don’t let our hard work and sacrifice be in vain. #LetUsPlay!”
Within one hour of Fields’ tweet, the petition had received 50,000 signatures, and as of Monday morning, it had 233,753 signatures. During the past 24 hours, the set goal for total signatures has continually increased and is currently set at a mark of 300,000.
The petition is specifically addressed to Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren, Big Ten university presidents and Big Ten athletic directors. Underneath the petition page is a comment section where those who have signed the petition can give their reasons for signing.
Simultaneously, a number of Big Ten parents began to speak out about their desire to watch their children play this fall. Iowa, Ohio State, Penn State and Nebraska parents were the primary forces of this parent-driven movement and released letters to the conference addressing their concerns and pushing for football’s reinstatement.
More than 60 Hawkeye football parents signed off on this letter and then had it delivered to Big Ten office. pic.twitter.com/Z7IOttnNiB— Keith Murphy (@MurphyKeith) August 14, 2020
While the parents acknowledged the risk of their children playing football this fall, they wrote, “the fact that the Big Ten and the Council of Presidents made this decision with no input from those actually assuming these risks is appalling.” They urged the conference to “fix the wrongdoings” and reconsider playing this fall with players at the forefront of those decisions.
Northwestern players and parents have expressed their feelings through social media leading up to and following the conference’s decision, but there has not been a similar mass movement within the Wildcat program yet. However, the parents’ movement and player-driven efforts are quickly gaining traction among all Big Ten schools.
Given how much chaos the Big Ten has already gone through, it’s unlikely that the actions of Fields and the parents actually change the already-made decision of the conference leaders. However, Fields holds a lot of sway as one of the best players in all of college football, and it’s clear that his movement is well-supported by the fans of the sport.