S-Nebraskaparents

Memorial Stadium at City Campus on Sept. 24, 2019, in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Parents and student-athletes alike are fighting for football and the rest of fall sports to return. They are committed to discovering what happened on August 11, the day that the conference postponed fall sports.

“It’s awesome ... for once, all Big Ten parents are on the same page instead of disliking each other on Saturday afternoons,’’ Husker parent Gene Benhart said. “We don’t like how it went down and we want to play football ... we want the transparency.”

On Thursday, eight Nebraska football players sued the Big Ten. Redshirt freshman offensive tackle Bryce Benhart was not involved, but his father was one of 11 parents that had threatened to sue. 

The Big Ten didn’t release the voting information as desired, so the parents’ Twitter account tweeted out another letter on the 24th. 

The final paragraph of the letter highlighted the parents’ main problem with the Big Ten’s decision, which is the lack of transparency. Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren has been criticized for not being open about what exactly led to the postponement. For reference, the Pac-12, the only other Power Five conference to postpone, released a 12-page report on what has to happen before fall sports return. 

The data used by the Big Ten to postpone the 2020 fall season was reported to be focused on myocarditis, a rare heart inflammation that was prevalent in at least five Big Ten athletes. The study came out as a shock but the data has been questioned as new positive news that could outweigh the negative data comes out.

The myocarditis data has been questioned by Big Ten parents and Michigan cardiologist Venk Murthy. Murthy said that myocarditis shouldn’t be the reason to postpone, but that the final decision may still be correct based on the “many complex issues at hand.” Analysis of the data available has also been something used by Nebraska parents to support their points.

“ ... This virus is a very serious thing. However, now there’s new data out on it, there’s new testing out on it,” Benhart said. “You can play football, you can play all sports safely this fall. They pulled the rug way too quick.” 

The new testing data came from the University of Illinois. According to the University of Illinois, every student is tested twice a week through a saliva swab test. The saliva swab test is the latest development meant to get results within the same day of testing.

Illinois plans on testing about 20,000 people per day and already has guidelines that every student has to be tested twice a week. 

In the parents’ eyes, recent testing discoveries mean there may now be a much better chance to play. Glen Snodgrass, Garrett Snodgrass’ father, retweeted the CDC’s recommendation of no testing for those without symptoms. Ethan Piper’s mom, Leisa Piper, tweeted that her son was safer with the football team.

Sophomore linebacker Garrett Nelson’s father, Chris Nelson, declined an interview request, but sent a video that he said expressed his thoughts better than he could himself. That video was part of Clay Travis’ radio show.

“The Nebraska parents are basically declaring war here on the Big Ten,” Travis said in the video. “Everything about the Big Ten’s decision to cancel the college football season has been rooted in lies.” 

Travis has gained attention over the past few months for his controversial opinions on the pandemic. He has been criticized for past predictions, such as underestimating the amount of cases and deaths that the United States would have. 

The parents’ support of Travis has come from the fact that he has also been a vocal critic of the Big Ten’s decision. He has made an appearance on parents’ Twitter pages, such as Nelson’s and the main Husker parents Twitter account. 

The Big Ten’s response since Aug. 11 was an open letter to the Big Ten community. The letter highlighted the reasoning behind postponing fall sports. The core of the decision to postpone was all the unknown health effects surrounding the virus that could impact the student-athletes. 

Another portion was concerns that contact tracing and managing risk could not be taken under control once normal students returned to campus. The risk management focused on potential disruptions if teams quarantined and focused on testing limitations with accuracy and timely results.

In the letter, Warren said the vote was overwhelmingly in favor of postponing fall sports and that vote would not be revisited. The letter’s attempt to calm student-athlete parents and athletes backfired. Now, the parent groups are still asking for transparency on how exactly the vote went down.

“We don’t like how it went down,” Benhart said. “Not only do we want to play football. We want to play football safely.”

sports@dailynebraskan.com