President TrumpDonald John Trump Trump says he does not think he could have done more to stop the spread of the virus. Conservative activist Lauren Witzke wins GOP Senate primary election in Delaware. and Republicans are celebrating the planned resumption of Big Ten football, making the decision to start the season in the middle of COVID-1
The Big Ten Conference announced on Wednesday that games will begin on the weekend of October 23 after a unanimous vote from school presidents and chancellors. Players are tested daily for COVID-19 and all athletes who test positive must remain out of competition for 21 days.
The decision was already largely politicized. Trump has repeatedly chastised states and universities for not allowing personal learning and football to begin, Republican lawmakers have called for the conference to resume the game and the Democratic presidential candidate Joe BidenJoe BidenCoons strikes back progressive Senate primary challenger in Delaware Biden court veterans amid fallout from Trump’s military controversies Biden campaign leader calls for ‘more ways’ to victory MORE accused Trump of the absence of football in a campaign ad last month.
The president took a victory shot on Wednesday, tweeting that it was his “great honor to have helped !!!”
The Trump campaign issued a lengthy statement that Big Ten football returned “not least thanks to President Trump’s leadership.”
Dens. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyTrump Goes Back in Aluminum Taxes on Canada Trump’s Order on Drug Prices Faces Long Road to GOP Finals to Release Preliminary Report on Biden Probe ‘in a Week’ MORE (R-Iowa) was among the GOP senators from states with schools in the big ten who thanked Trump for his focus on the conference.
It is unclear what role Trump played in the Big Ten’s decision, if any. Trump was not mentioned in the Big Ten’s announcement, and league officials said at a news conference that the start of the season was a result of advances in coronavirus testing and tracking capabilities.
The conference also faced pressure from players and coaches to resume play and struggled with lost revenue, while some other leagues continued with their seasons.
But Trump had been a vocal advocate for bringing football back.
He spoke with Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren on September 1 to discuss a possible resumption of gambling, and he often mentioned the conference in interviews and at news conferences when discussing the coronavirus pandemic.
“It was a productive call, and I’m always interested in who is willing to help, no matter what level they may be helping,” Warren said Wednesday about his conversation with Trump. “So had a great conversation and a very respectful conversation and I’m happy to sit here today and look forward to starting football on October 23-24.”
A senior official told reporters during a background call that the White House has held hundreds of additional calls with athletic directors, players, parents, coaches and conference staff over the past 15 days and that the administration provided resources to facilitate the resumption of play.
The senior official would not say whether the Big Ten accepted these resources and only quoted Trump’s call for Warren and the use of the bully pulpit chair when asked what tangible action the president was taking.
Trump’s fixation on the conference is a nod to members’ electoral significance: Schools in the battlefield states of Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Ohio are all competing in the big ten. In contrast, Trump has been noticeably silent about the absence of football in the Pac-12 conference, which hosts schools from California, Washington and Oregon, among others.
The president won Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin in 2016 with a total of about 80,000 votes. He has consistently followed the polls in Michigan, and a Wisconsin poll released late Tuesday shows him following Biden by 6 percentage points. The difference is narrower in Pennsylvania, where a CNBC poll earlier this month showed Biden led by 4 points.
“The president wants everyone to reopen,” the senior official said. “This is not just a matter of the Big Ten or PAC-12 or Mountain West. He is willing to provide resources for anyone considering playing football. . “
The Biden campaign released an ad in late August highlighting the changing sports landscape, accusing it of Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic that has killed nearly 200,000 people in the United States. The ad contained images of empty stadiums, suggesting that “Trump put America on the sidelines.”
Doug Heye, a former communications director for the Republican National Committee, said the resumption of Big Ten football and soccer in general could give the president a short-term boost because it removes a conversation from Democrats.
“So it’s an advantage to remove it, but we have to be careful not to overwhelm what this means politically,” Heye added, noting that fans will not be able to attend games in person and businesses in university towns can still fighting in the pandemic.
The Big Ten announced on August 11 that the football season would be postponed until the spring due to the pandemic. The decision and explanation created frustration among many players, parents and coaches within the league, including some who questioned why the conference did not wait to see if it was possible to just push the season to later in the fall.
In the time since the initial delay, the pandemic has not improved significantly in the United States. The country still reports thousands of new infections every day and hundreds of deaths due to the virus, and a handful of states have seen rising positivity rates. The United States leads the world in reported infections and deaths.
Conference officials pointed to advances in rapid testing as a key to their turnaround.
“Our ability to test consistently and consistently among the conference and deliver it was really important and I think we have been very familiar with the idea that we will be able to deliver daily quick tests that give us great monitoring of our student-athletes, “said Jim Borchers, team doctor for the Ohio State University football team, at a virtual news conference.
Concerns remain over the players’ health. A number of college football matches have already been postponed in other conferences due to positive tests, and Louisiana State University coach Ed Orgeron said Tuesday that he suspects most of his teams have already had COVID-19.
In the big ten, the University of Wisconsin and Penn State University recently stopped training for teams due to positive tests.
“The @bigten shows once again how college athletics always uses situational ethics,” tweeted Joe Lockhart, a former spokesman for Clinton White House and the NFL. “I do not know if the children should play or not. But nothing has changed on the data, it has actually gotten worse than when they made the original decision. So why change?”