COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — A petition started by Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields to reinstate the Big Ten fall football season has more than 250,000 signatures.
Fields publicized the petition on Sunday with a tweet that read in part, “This cause is close to my heart.”
Many of those signatures are from Ohio State students who want to see Ohio State play and possibly win a national championship.
“I feel if the players feel safe and think they should play, then they should be able to play,” said Caleb Smith who told NBC4 he signed it.
The petition is directed to Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren, as well as the conference’s university presidents and athletic directors.
In the petition, Fields expressed support for the COVID-19 safety protocols that were already in place while also advocating for a season.
We, the football players of the Big Ten, together with the fans and supporters of college football, request that the Big Ten Conference immediately reinstate the 2020 football season. 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 penalty or repercussion.”Justin Fields’ petition
Despite the increasing number of signatures the petition is receiving, some doubt the effort will succeed. B. David Ridpath, an associate professor of sports business at Ohio University, told NBC4 that he commends Fields’ efforts, but he does not think they will lead to change.
“I think it would be really tough, not impossible, but I think it would be really tough to have Kevin Warren and those university presidents go back and change, and then imagine if something happens then,” said Ridpath. “You have to look at it from a risk management perspective. I know it’s not a pleasant thing, but you have to look at liability. You have to look at the cost.”
NBC4 did reach out to a spokesperson for the Big Ten to see if someone with the conference would comment on the petition. There was no response to that request as of 6:00 p.m. on Monday.
Ohio State head coach Ryan Day tweeted his support for Fields and the rest of his football team.