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Of Course, the Debate Was Always Going to Be About Trump

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    The Biden campaign enlists two former players to blame the Trump administration for the lack of Big Ten football.

    A key part of the Biden campaign’s message has been that the nation is continuing to suffer from the Trump administration’s failure to tame the coronavirus outbreak. Joseph R. Biden Jr. pressed the point himself this week with a speech faulting President Trump for the inability of most schools to reopen safely, and on Thursday the campaign took aim at another disrupted American tradition: Big Ten football.

    The campaign enlisted two football players in Michigan to make the case that the federal government’s coronavirus response had left swaths of the Midwest without their favorite football teams.

    Calvin Johnson, the former Detroit Lions wide receiver, and State Representative Joe Tate, a Detroit Democrat and Michigan State University alumnus who played in the N.F.L. for two years, teamed up to decry the federal response to Covid-19, which they blamed for the loss of tailgating and economic activity on football Saturdays in Big Ten cities across the Midwest.

    “The leadership in Michigan took it seriously from Day 1, locking things down and saving a lot of lives,” Mr. Johnson said. “What if we had done the same with the federal response? What if we had a leader that led by example, who wears his mask and preaches social distancing?”

    Mr. Tate said: “We deserve bustling campuses, vibrant small businesses in Michigan and a leader who recognizes how high the stakes are.”

    Last month, leaders of the Big Ten universities voted 11-3 to postpone this year’s fall sports because of the coronavirus, leading to estimated revenue losses of $50 million to $100 million for each school in the conference. In addition, economists have estimated that Ann Arbor and East Lansing, home to the University of Michigan and M.S.U., will lose at least $80 million in local spending by fans who would have come for the games.

    Mr. Trump said on Twitter on Tuesday that he had talked with the Big Ten commissioner, Kevin Warren, about the possibility of getting the football season back on track in a region of the country that will be crucial in the upcoming election. The Big Ten includes universities in the battleground states of Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Iowa and Minnesota. The decision on the season, however, lies with the leaders of the universities.

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