OPINION: As four-year universities swiftly find ways to resume fall sports, the rest wait

Junior colleges in California will begin football and other sports in 2021 – long after NCAA sports returned. 

Just over a month ago, NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) colleges and universities played their first games in 2020. A month before that, most of the Power Five Conferences were ready to postpone the entire 2020-21 athletic season. 

Oh, how things change.

Fast forward to the present day, the California Community College Athletic Association (CCCAA) has yet to update its contingency plan issued July 9. Why is that? Why can dozens of four-year schools revive their season while the CCCAA remains incompetent?

More than 24,000 California community college athletes are currently held out of competition. A majority of those athletes are bound to Zoom, a video conference service that has provided one of the only means of communication between coaches and players during the pandemic. 

This weekend, 22 teams will play in the FBS. It’s still a possibility that programs under the CCCAA will not even get to practice this year. So what attributes to this lack of effort from junior colleges to bring sports back?

The elephant in the room is money. The average salary of a FBS coach is $2.67 million, an absurd jump from the $38,000 annual income for a community college coach, according to USA Today. 

The institutions fighting vigorously to bring back sports are raking in millions of dollars, with or without fans in the stands. Compared to community colleges, which generate just about enough money to keep the lights on, four-year universities are simply measured on a different scale.

No matter the incentive, it is clear that junior colleges have been forgotten by the public. 

It has been 3 months since the CCCAA drafted its first and only contingency plan. There hasn’t been a movement to accelerate the return to play by any means. No coaches association, player labor body or even community politician has come forward demanding the CCCAA to get something, anything, back sooner than 2021.  

Even when most sports return in January, there will be serious reductions to the usual athletic season. 

Each program is expected to reduce its regular season schedule by 30% in the spring, in accordance with the CCCAA contingency plan. When that shortened regular season is concluded, there will not be any state-wide postseason tournaments – only regional contests. 

The CCCAA’s plan is not worth celebrating. It is settling at its finest. 

Community college football programs will only play seven games under the current plan, which will match the regular season length for the Pac-12. The only difference is the Pac-12 will play in three weeks. Teams under the CCCAA will play in three months. 

The CCCAA has the best interest of its athletes in mind, no one can blame them for that. Where the Association falls short, however, is realizing that these players have aspirations beyond the two-year level.

It remains unseen whether athletes will have access to face-to-face recruiting. The practice was banned in March, and the CCCAA has done little to clarify its status going into next year. Furthermore, community college athletes will not play an ample amount of games compared to athletes of four-year universities. This discrepancy might cost junior college athletes an opportunity to play at a higher level further down the line. 

It is not a compromise to receive 30% less games three months later. It is a failure.

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