Injuries are a constant part of football. From Pop Warner to the Pros, this is a physical game and players get banged up all the time. Every single time, teams play by the philosophy “Next Man Up.” But what happens when there is no next man? Grinnell College in Iowa faces that very dilema.
It would be hard to imagine a worse start to the season for the Pioneers. The team is getting their ass kicked constantly. They sit in dead last in the country at 0-3 while being outscored 114-3. More importantly though, 11 different players on the 39 player team are out for extended periods or the season. That leaves only 28 players to play offense, defense, and special teams. The school decided that was not enough to play out the remaining 7 games on their schedule, releasing the following statement on Tuesday:
“This decision is in line with the Athletic Department’s mission, which states that student-athletes benefit from an integrated, co-curricular experience that upholds the academic mission of the College as the department provides individualized and group instruction in a safe environment, celebrates academic excellence, and emphasizes experiential learning. The current state of the football team precludes the College from providing a safe environment. The College is unwilling to compromise the health and safety of its players, including the 11 players, who over the course of the first seven weeks of practice and play, will miss some or all of the season”
What a kick in the knackers for a team already feeling low. DIII athletes are playing for the love of the game, even when the game is physically destroying them. These poor kids put their heart and soul into this season only to get bullied and broken until the Athletic Director had no choice but to call the season. I guarantee if the school hadn’t stepped in, these undersized, plucky kids would gladly have lined up to lose 45-0 and have their collarbones snapped in half, because that’s what football players do. Much respect to the Pioneers.
Photo: Grinnell College