To play or not to play, that is the question.

Every day our lives are filled with decisions. Big decisions, small decisions, remotely conscious decisions. Thousands of decisions on a daily basis, as many as 35,000 per day.

While some decisions have little to no real impact on our lives past the moment we actually pick them, others do. And sooner rather than later, college football powers may have to make a very difficult decision to cancel the 2020 college football season.

In the sports world and football specifically, we’ve seen football players making the tough decision to opt out on the 2020 season due to the Covid-19 pandemic. According to report from the AP, a total of 66 NFL players met Thursday’s deadline to officially declare their status for the season and opt-out of the season.

But that decision comes with a consequence in the way of a pay cut for this season. Per an ESPN report:

Players considered high risk for COVID-19 can earn $350,000 and an accrued NFL season by choosing to opt out of the season. Players without risk earn $150,000 for opting out.

New England’s Dont’a Hightower is one of eight players on the Patriots that have opted out for the 2020 season. (Photo: USA Today)

Sure. For most people, getting $150,000 NOT to work sounds pretty good. However, for a guy like Dont’a Hightower who was set to earn a base salary of $8 million this season that is a big deal. The Patriot linebacker, who recently became a father, will now only receive $150,000 for the year. Obviously, that is a colossal difference in pay. Ideally, a NFL veteran like Hightower has managed his money well enough to this point to where there won’t be any issues. Nevertheless, the loss of money this season remains significant for him and others alike.

On the college level, we’ve also seen players opting out of the 2020 college football season. Here’s where things can get little more hairy. While some of the faces of the league and projected top picks of the 2021 such as Justin Fields and Trevor Lawrence have made it clear they are ready to play ball, others like Penn State linebacker and potential top-10 2021 NFL draft pick, Micah Parsons, will not play. That’s a good sign for college football powers that a majority of the big names intend on playing if it is allowed. But this could change quickly if those in charge wanted to try a spring football season.

I’ve discussed how ridiculous of an idea I believe that is. You’d have top draft picks sitting out or people on the fence of going pro early not risking it and opting out. You’d also just players in general not wanting to risk playing two seasons in a year while the elite continue to decide if student athletes should be compensated for the use of their name, image and likeness in addition to other benefits currently forbidden by the NCAA. ‘

While it would make things more interesting in some ways for a spring season, we’d miss out on the guys we really want to see play. Then there’s the NFL draft, spring practice, recruiting and other operational scheduling conflicts AND THEN we have to turn around and play football again in the fall? It simply would not work.

Folks will have opinions about why players are opting out and what it says about their character. I’ve already heard people calling players selfish. Want to know what is selfish? The folks that couldn’t slow down their lives and social distance when all this started to help slow the spread of this virus. Now, we aren’t in much greater condition than we were in March/April/May and we are in danger of not having football at all. Those people ignoring all these health and safety regulations and recommendations are the selfish people, in my humble opinion.

Meanwhile, we are sticking our nose in the personal lives and decisions of grown men in the NFL and applying unnecessary pressure on college athletes to make incredibly difficult decisions. I don’t really care WHY a player makes the decision to opt out or quit this season because at the end of the day they did it because they felt it was best for them and their circle.

For me, it is no different than players transferring to a different program for playing time or other reasons, leaving early to go pro or perhaps electing to step away due to health issues . I think sometimes, especially with college athletes, we put way too much pressure on them and their decisions. I’ll never understand why grown adults get on social media and attack a recruit in regard to where they decide to continue their education and athletic career.

Like seriously…..chill out, dude.

Decisions can be tough and that will be the case until the end of time. But I think some people need to get a grip when it comes to athletes–both amateur and professional–and their personal life decisions. Sure, it may prove later on they made a terrible choice, but it is THEIR choice and they’ll have to handle it accordingly.

Let. People. Live.