Collegiate Bowl called off over Covid fears

Los Angeles (AFP) –


The NFL Players Association said Friday it had cancelled its 2021 Collegiate Bowl game as Covid-19 continued to wreak havoc on the US college gridiron season.

A statement from the NFLPA said the Collegiate Bowl, an effective All-Star game for college players which was launched in 2012, would not be held next year because of concerns over the coronavirus.

"In making this decision, we consulted with our personnel, medical, game operations and internal staff while doing our due diligence to review all potential options within the parameters of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic," the NFLPA said in a statement.

"Ultimately, we determined that we would be unable to provide our participants with the world-class, week-long experience that is the hallmark of our game."

The decision comes amid a mounting fixture pile-up in the lucrative world of college football, a pillar of the American sporting landscape which attracts a huge following.

Since the season kicked off in September around 60 games have been postponed or cancelled altogether because of outbreaks of Covid-19.

The powerful Southeastern Conference (SEC) has seen multiple fixtures scrapped this week with the heavyweight game between Alabama and Louisiana State University amongst several to be called off, along with Mississippi State's home game v Auburn.

Several of the "Power Five" conferences of collegiate teams initially postponed plans to play this season before later relenting.

However Covid-10 has continued to stalk college football, with repeated outbreaks hitting players and staff.

Ten games were cancelled or postponed last week and 10 more have also been disrupted this weekend.

Even when games go ahead, coronavirus has been a factor. Notre Dame's upset win over top-ranked Clemson came with Clemson's star quarterback Trevor Lawrence sitting out for a second straight week after a positive Covid test.

A day after the victory, University of Notre Dame officials expressed "disappointment" at "widespread disregard of our health protocols" at celebratory parties around the campus in Indiana.

The chaos and increased scrutiny comes as the United States faces skyrocketing Covid-19 cases nationwide, with more than 200,000 new infections reported in a single 24-hour period earlier this week.

The seven-day moving average is currently about 125,000 cases, more than 65,000 people are hospitalized, and the seven-day average of deaths is exceeding 1,000, according to data from the Covid Tracking Project.