Several states across the country are starting to re-open businesses after being closed for weeks due to the coronavirus outbreak. At the same time, sports are looking to return to action with NASCAR and UFC coming back this month. As for football, there are no plans to push back the college and NFL season, but the real question is will there be fans in attendance once it returns? College football expert Tony Barnhart tweeted a photo of fans attending a football game at Georgia Tech in 1918 — during a time when the Spanish flu hit the entire country, and led to fans wearing masks in order to protect themselves.
Along with the Spanish flu pandemic, World War I was going on, and both events had a huge impact on college football. Barnhart wrote about the 1918 college football season for Sports Illustrated, and many schools were not able to begin their seasons until late October or early November. Some schools only played three or four games, while the annual Army-Navy game was canceled. "One of the teams that played almost a complete schedule in 1918 was Georgia Tech, coached by the legendary John Heisman," Barnhart wrote. "The Golden Tornadoes, as they were known then, played a seven-game schedule with six of those games played at home at Grant Field.
Here is a photo of an undetermined Georgia Tech home game during the 1918 college football season. That's when the sport was hit by the Spanish flu and the end of World War I. The photo was taken by a student, Thomas Carter. It was provided by Georgia Tech alumnus Andy McNeal. pic.twitter.com/jgVvgtlUbK— Tony Barnhart (@MrCFB) May 6, 2020
"And despite the threat of the flu, fans turned out at Georgia Tech. The photo that accompanies this story is of an undetermined 1918 Georgia Tech home game that was taken by a student, Thomas Carter, who graduated in the 1920s with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. It’s clear that the vast majority of the spectators in the photo were wearing masks in what published reports said was the peak of the flu in October and November."
Currently, the college football season is uncertain as teams didn't have spring football. One of the biggest things that has to happen is schools reopening campuses. If the schools are closed in the fall, it will be hard for teams to have games at their stadium.
"There isn't a model I can run to fix the problem of not having any football," UCF athletic director Danny White said to ESPN in April. "I don't think there's anybody in my position with a big football fan base that could make decisions to fix that. I don't know what happens — there's not a model, there's not a solution, there's not an action I can take that's going to solve that problem."