Southern Heritage Classic is first college football game canceled due to COVID-19

Jackson State Tigers. (Photo by David J. Becker/Getty Images)
Jackson State Tigers. (Photo by David J. Becker/Getty Images) /

The Southern Heritage Classic has been canceled in 2020 due to COVID-19.

We know of one college football game that won’t be happening this year.

On Wednesday morning, it was announced the Southern Heritage Classic between the Jackson State Tigers and the Tennessee State Tigers will not be played in 2020 because of the global pandemic.

The Southern Heritage Classic is an annual rivalry game between these two HBCUs schools, as they play at a neutral site of the Liberty Bowl in Memphis, Tennessee. This game was slated to be played on Sept. 12, but we’ll have to wait for the latest rendition of this rivalry until 2021 at the earliest.

Here is what was set in Wednesday morning’s press release by the SHC.

"“It is with deep regret we announce the 31st Southern Heritage Classic (SHC) has been canceled. The decision to cancel all events was made after SHC’s management reviewed a copy of the Shelby County Health Department’s Health Directive No. 6 detailing emergency management relief efforts in place to address COVID-19, specifically those regarding recreational or athletic activities.”"

The coronavirus has led to the Southern Heritage Classic being canceled.

While everybody is disappointed this annual college football event in Memphis has been canceled, this will be the second time in three years this has happened. In 2018, the event was canceled due to inclement weather. So why is the Southern Heritage Classic getting out ahead of this in mid-June to cancel their event that was slated to happen in roughly three months?

This annual event in Memphis draws roughly 75,000 people to the Liberty Bowl and other happenings around the city. That’s kind of the point of these neutral-site affairs, to get a ton of people into one place where they can enjoy a high-stakes football game that is full of passion. Without fans, or with a limited number of fans, it’s probably not worth doing this year.

We have to wonder if other neutral-site affairs at the FBS level will be impacted. This game was to take place a week after Labor Day Weekend. How does this impact the likes of the Chick-fil-A Kickoff down in Atlanta or other high-profile neutral-site games in Week 1 of the college football season?

Those events may continue as is because of major television contracts, as well as it not being an annual rivalry game. It’s not like the Georgia Bulldogs and the Virginia Cavaliers are fierce rivals, nor could be said about the Baylor Bears and the Ole Miss Rebels or the Alabama Crimson Tide and the USC Trojans. The rivalry factor between Jackson State and Tennessee State is important.

With the Southern Heritage Classic canceled for 2020, here’s to it coming back in 2021.

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