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College Football: The Cost of Not Playing

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NCAA Division I athletic departments around the country have been searching for ways to play college football this season, and the most likely explanation for why is just one word: money. At the same time, health concerns have pushed some conferences to decide not to play.

As of August 18, the Big Ten and Pac-12 will not be playing. The SEC, ACC and Big 12 are still planning on a season.

But the cost of not playing is steep, say experts. Take for example the Nebraska Cornhuskers football program. Nebraska has been adamant and outspoken about playing the game even amid the pandemic. Why? Football represents 69% of its total revenue ($94 million of $136 million).

Adding fuel to the fire, a spring survey through the LEAD1 Association showed that 54 of 95 respondents said their departments do not have reserve funds, meaning if they don't play, they'll be in the red quickly.

Meanwhile, the NBA is also losing money from not playing with fans. According to data from TicketIQ, for the entire NBA playoffs, the estimated ticket market value is just under $998 million. But according to TicketIQ, "for the NBA, losses from the 56 potential opening round games total $308 million based upon the 2019 opening round average resale ticket price of $294."

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