The coronavirus has put Big Ten football on ice for the 2020 season. But, one of the conference's biggest stars isn't willing to sit out without putting up a fight.
Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields took it upon himself to create a petition calling for The Big Ten Conference to immediately reinstate the football season. His petition argues that it should be up to individual players, coaches, and teams to decide if they want to assume the risk of playing football during a pandemic.
"Allow Big Ten players/teams to make their own choice as to whether they wish to play or opt out this fall season. Allow Big Ten players/teams who choose to opt out of playing a fall season to do so without penality [sic] or repercussion," the description reads. Fields went on to explain that he thinks necessary safety precautions have been made that will create a healthy atmosphere to play football.
"We want to play. We believe that safety protocols have been established and can be maintained to mitigate concerns of exposure to Covid 19," Fields said. "We believe that we should have the right to make decisions about what is best for our health and our future. Don’t let our hard work and sacrifice be in vain. #LetUsPlay!"
On Tuesday, The Big Ten announced that it would be canceling the 2020 football season. This made The Big 10 the first Power 5 conference to decide not to play this fall due to the pandemic. This comes after Ohio State's Ryan Day, Michigan's Jim Harbaugh, Penn State's James Franklin, Nebraska's Scott Frost, and other Big Ten coaches publicly pushed for the season to continue as scheduled. But, this wasn't enough to sway The Big Ten.
"The mental and physical health and welfare of our student-athletes has been at the center of every decision we have made regarding the ability to proceed forward," Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren said per CBS Sports. "As time progressed and after hours of discussion with our Big Ten Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases and the Big Ten Sports Medicine Committee, it became abundantly clear that there was too much uncertainty regarding potential medical risks to allow our student-athletes to compete this fall."
Also, cleanliness and the coronavirus are the least of Big Ten's concerns. Sources say that the conference's decision to cancel the 2020 season follows the news of at least 15 Big Ten players dealing with myocarditis—inflammation of the heart muscle—after battling COVID-19.
"Myocarditis is the ballgame right now," a source said. "Myocarditis is the major issue they're looking at. … Between the Pac-12 and the Big Ten, that's what is really driving the push to push this off to spring."
Despite this, Fields' petition has reached over 20,000 signatures as of Sunday.