Pandemic Football is the first entry of The Game before the Money Podcast’s “Five Minutes of Football History” segments that will appear each Tuesday.
The NCAA cancelled March Madness in 2020. Will there be a college football season in 2020? We don’t know. Rumors swirl around possibly playing in the spring. We haven’t seen sports affected like this in our lifetimes.
The biggest comparison we have available in major sports is the Influenza pandemic of 1918. The virus killed an estimated 50 million people worldwide – 675,000 in the U.S. There were three waves of the pandemic in the United States – one in the spring, a second and most deadly wave in the fall, and a third wave early in 1919.
There were more deaths from the influenza pandemic than there were in World War 1. The strain of flu was like none other previously – influenza normally only threatened the lives of the very young, very old, and very sick. The strain that hit in 1918 took the lives of people in their primes. It became known as the Spanish Flu, theoretically because the Spanish media were the first to actually acknowledge the crisis.
The Spanish Flu pandemic devastated the 1918 college football season. Most October games were cancelled. Michigan and Pitt split the college football national championship but each team played only five games. The Indiana Hoosiers only played four games as the state suffered a severe outbreak of the influenza.
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