There’s been a lot of discussion lately about ways for NCAA schools to help their players participate in the political process more, including voter registration efforts for players (discussed at Florida State and elsewhere). The NCAA as a body added something to that Friday with a “We encourage all member schools to assist students in registering to vote in the upcoming national election and designate Nov. 3, 2020, as a day off from athletic activity so athletes can vote and participate in their ultimate responsibility as citizens” statement. And while that’s only an “encouragement,” it does mean something; Nov. 3 is a Tuesday, so that would only mean cancelling practices for most schools, but it would alter one planned football game, a Mid-American Conference game between the Buffalo Bulls and the Northern Illinois Huskies (seen above playing each other in the MAC championship in November 2018). The MAC put out a statement Friday afternoon that they’re working with ESPN to reschedule that game:
— #MACtion (@MACSports) June 12, 2020
Of course, all this comes with caveats. There are big questions ahead for NCAA football as a whole, especially after positive COVID-19 tests at large numbers of schools. So the whole football season is far from assured at this point. But it’s certainly interesting to see the NCAA coming out with a statement to try and get schools to make Election Day a day off from athletic activity, and to see the MAC (which has the most potential actual impact from that move) say they’ll work with ESPN to reschedule that game.
This probably isn’t the worst thing in the world for ESPN, either. Election Night isn’t a great night for anything other than election coverage from a ratings standpoint, so a rescheduled game may be a win for them as well. And mid-week MAC games are so much about TV at this point that it doesn’t really seem to make sense to put one on a night when a lot of people aren’t going to watch it. So moving the game has some benefits from the TV side, in addition to what it could mean for the players. We’ll see where this game winds up.
[MAC Sports on Twitter]