Penn State Football is Jeopardizing our Community


Photo/Sports Illustrated

On Sept. 15, the Big Ten sports organization voted for the return of their football teams. The return of these football teams, especially Penn State, caused some discourse in the State College community.

Cora Bainbridge, Sports Manager

SCASD switched to fully remote learning when COVID-19 cases in State College increased by the hundreds, and that was even before Penn State football announced its return. With cases increasing daily and the newly-added prospect of football fans flooding State College, members of the community have many concerns. As a State High student, I am wondering if in-person school will now be at risk because of the possible influx of COVID-19 cases caused by Penn State football.

Penn State Football was originally canceled back in August, but with the first week of college football coming to an end, the Big Ten decided to revote to see if these teams should play. The Big Ten is a district 1 sports organization that is in charge of certain football teams, including Penn State. Right before the vote, on Sept. 15, Centre County COVID case numbers increased by 500, making the county one of the only hotspots in the northeast. This, however, did not stop the team presidents and coaches from a unanimous vote to play. An announcement soon followed that Big Ten football would be returning, starting October 23 and 24.

As a lover of sports, Penn State football was the first team that introduced me to that world. I have clear cut memories of my family watching the Nittany Lions come back from trailing Ohio State and beating them for the first time in years. Penn State football has brought so much joy to me that I was originally so excited for its return. Sophomore Addy Bainbridge had similar thoughts and feelings.

“I’m waiting in anticipation to see what comes of the return of Penn State football,” Bainbridge said. “All I can hope for is that Penn State is taking the necessary precautions.”

These necessary precautions will hopefully allow the team the ability to play their eight-game schedule, but it is uncertain if the same is said about SCASD fall sports teams. As the student-athletes of State High expressed on Sept. 16, by holding a peaceful protest outside the high school, they want to play their sport. The school board recently passed the Fall Interim Athletic Plan, allowing these athletes to play, but this plan does not allow all fall sports to compete. The prerequisite for our high school teams to compete is that the area surrounding the place of the competition is safe.

College football teams can have up to 125 players, and with two college teams playing in State College, the total becomes 250 players, not including the athletic staff. Such a situation creates a higher likelihood of people contracting the virus.

“It is no secret how much community there is surrounding the team both in and out of State College,” Bainbridge said.

This community of people, including both the Penn State players and State College community members, will only increase the chances of cases going up in State College. With Penn State football returning near the end of October, the influx of people coming to State College only decreases the chance for our athletes to have a full fall season, which will limit the seasons of the athletes currently playing and the athletes awaiting the start of their season.

The district has not stated when in-school students will be allowed to come back to school, and with State College now being placed in the red zone, it likely will not be anytime soon. Some theorize that when the students are gone from Penn State, then the students from State High can go back. But what if the Penn State students leaving is not enough? What if the case numbers do not change as much as people are anticipating, and our students do not get to go back as soon as they may think? With the numbers of COVID-19 cases increasing by an exponential rate every day, the likelihood of in-school students going back to school keeps dwindling away.

The return of Penn State football is a way for the people of this town to feel normal in these not so normal times. However, is it worth the increased number of cases State College will see? SCASD students have less of a chance of going back to school anytime soon, and the student-athletes likely full season dwindling down the drain. Penn State football is great for morale, but it is a threat to the safety of our students.