Sports News

Trump calls for college football to play on despite COVID-19 fears

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to the media before boarding Air Force One as he departs from Bedminster, New Jersey, U.S., August 9, 2020. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

(Reuters) - President Donald Trump called on U.S. colleges to proceed with the fall football season amid reports on Monday that it could be canceled because of concerns over the COVID-19 outbreak.

“The student-athletes have been working too hard for their season to be cancelled. #WeWantToPlay,” Trump wrote on Twitter.

In another tweet, he wrote: “Play College Football!”

His comments were made in a retweet of a post from Clemson University quarterback Trevor Lawrence, one of the more high-profile players who has been vocal on social media about his desire to play.

Trump’s tweets followed several reports that U.S. college sports’ “Power Five” conferences, comprised of the country’s top football programs, have met to discuss the viability of a 2020 season.

“He very much would like to see college football safely resume their sport,” White House spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany told reporters at a briefing when asked about Trump’s tweet.

“A lot of these college athletes... work their whole lives for this moment, and he’d like to see them have a change to live out their dreams.”

Earlier this year a study conducted by Washington University in St. Louis for ESPN said the 65 schools that make up the “Power Five” would collectively lose more than $4 billion in football revenue if the season were canceled, with at least $1.2 billion of that due to lost ticket revenue.

Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Additional reporting by Jeff Mason and Susan Heavey; Editing by Dan Grebler