The 31st Southern Heritage Classic has been canceled due to COVID-19, which means the annual football game between Jackson State and Tennessee State has also been canceled in 2020.
The Southern Heritage Classic announced it is canceling the entire event, which draws 75,000 people to Memphis every September. In the social media announcement, the event shared that refunds for the football game can be received at the point of purchase.
Due to COVID-19, the 31st Southern Heritage Classic has been canceled. Refunds for the football game can be recieved at the point of purchase.— Southern Heritage Classic (@ClassicMemphis) June 17, 2020
Fred Jones, the Founder of the Southern Heritage Classic, provided the following statement (h/t wkrn.com):
“I know this is a great disappointment to many who consider the SHC one of the major highlights of the year. The health and safety of our attendees along with that of our staff, sponsors, and others is a top priority. I encourage everyone to keep practicing recommended safety and social distancing measures so that we can return to our usual activities as soon as possible.”
As alluded to by Pat Forde of Yahoo Sports, this cancellation is at this point an outlier. But could it be a sign of things to come?
We have a canceled college football game. The annual Jackson State-Tennessee State game in Memphis, scheduled for Sept. 12, is off. Sign of things to come, or at outlier? https://t.co/J867o3Bbxr— Pat Forde (@ByPatForde) June 17, 2020
Barring significant changes nationally, it appears we’re going to have college football this fall. Whether fans attend or not is another story altogether, but we know for a fact that schools are pushing for as many fans as are deemed safe. The reason for this is obvious: Revenue will be lost in vast amounts if fans aren’t allowed to attend games.
The latest on this front is that some fans are expected to be allowed into stadiums, at least in some parts of the country. On Tuesday, USC athletic director Mike Bohn told season-ticket holders he is “ preparing for the possibility” fans might be allowed in the Coliseum in Los Angeles.
All of this is being discussed with a backdrop of student-athletes returning to schools with COVID-19. Multiple high-profile programs have had students test positive for the coronavirus. The University of Houston had to suspend its voluntary activities after a small outbreak occurred.