CNN's Bob Costas: 'Unconscionable' for unpaid college football players to play during pandemic

CNN's Bob Costas: 'Unconscionable' for unpaid college football players to play during pandemic

New CNN contributor Bob Costas on Thursday said that the NCAA pushing forward with plans to play football amid the coronavirus pandemic was “unconscionable," noting the student-athletes are unpaid and don't have a "union to protect them" under the circumstances.

Costas, who joined the network earlier this month after decades at NBC, shared his perspective on CNN's "Facts & Fears: Coronavirus Town Hall" with Anderson Cooper and Sanjay Gupta on Thursday night.

“Think of the size of football rosters and think of the nature of the sport with contact on every play,” Costas explained. “And then, think about college football. More and more, that seems less and less likely. It may be unlikely that the NFL can get in a full season. But the idea of playing college football under these circumstances, players not compensated, no union to protect them. That’s unconscionable.”

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Costas, 68, does believe some other college sports that do not involve the kind of contact football does could possibly return.

“Every sport differs. You can play tennis. You can play golf," the Hall-of-Fame broadcaster explained. "There’s certain things you can do, more or less, safely.

"Whatever the flaws may be, whatever the hypocrisies may be, surrounding big-time college sports, it’s those two sports that pay for tennis and lacrosse and crew and all the rest," Costas added, referring to football and basketball. "So that takes a hit, as well." 

Major League Baseball returned last week but has already seen some disruptions of play due to COVID-19. 

The Miami Marlins saw an outbreak that included 19 members of the organization testing positive for the coronavirus, forcing MLB to suspend the team's games through Sunday. Two members of the Philadelphia Phillies organization, the Marlins' opponent last weekend, have also tested positive. 

The NFL is still scheduled to begin its season on the first Thursday after Labor Day in September.