On-Again, Off-Again College Football Season Again in Doubt
College football players throughout the country are reporting for “voluntary” workouts in preparation for the upcoming 2020 season, which the conference commissioners and athletic directors are planning to play come hell or high water…or coronavirus.
And the players, according to that erstwhile medical expert, Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott, are “much safer” on campus—where they’ll be sweating in workouts and locker rooms and scrimmages alongside 100 other players—than they would be at home.
Of course they would.
It didn’t take long for Scott’s theory to be disproven. Last week, over 30 LSU players were isolated for testing positive or coming into contact with someone who had the virus. Earlier, 23 players tested positive for the virus at Clemson. Another 13 tested positive at Texas. Workouts were suspended at Kansas State, after 14 tested positive, and at Houston, after six tested positive.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. This is happening when the players are virtually alone on campus, under strict control, and coming into contact with very few outsiders.
What’s going to happen when teams start contact work and scrimmages? What’s going to happen if and when the players have extended contact with members of their team’s training/medical/PR/compliance/operations staffs? With other students? With members of the media?
What happens if the virus spreads throughout an entire team? Of if, God forbid, a player dies from the virus? What kind of liability will the school have?
These are questions that no one had adequate answers to before the premature decision was made to bring players back to begin preparations for the season that is now, once again, in some jeopardy.
I love college football and desperately hope there will be a 2020 season. But bad things can happen when decisions are made hastily and without considering all the possible consequences, and when money takes precedence over safety and academics.
Florida Fears: The NBA’s plan to resume play in a Florida “bubble” is now under scrutiny because coronavirus infections are spiking in the state that was 1) too late to lock down and 2) too early to re-open.
Three straight days of record highs in new COVID cases have players and coaches questioning whether Florida is, in fact, the best place to play.
MLB Blunders: The ongoing saga of greed and incompetence that has plagued Major League Baseball for the past three months continues. Over the weekend Commissioner Rob “let’s start extra innings with a man on second base” Manfred claimed a deal with the players had been reached, only to have the union contradict him the next day. After another exchange of “final” proposals failed, Manfred has exercised his authority to “impose” a season. The plan is for 60 games, beginning July 24.
The players are due to respond this afternoon. Stay tuned.
Backing Bubba: We rarely—if ever—write about auto racing in this space, but an incredibly emotional and heart-warming moment occurred yesterday at a NASCAR race in Talladega, Alabama, in support of Bubba Wallace, the only black racer in the sport’s highest level of competition.
Hundreds of members of the NASCAR community, including drivers and crew members, pushed Wallace’s car ahead of the pack and marched behind him to the front of the pit. A day earlier, a noose had been found in Wallace’s garage after he had convinced NASCAR officials to ban Confederate flags at events.
Wallace races for Richard Petty’s team, and the 82-year old icon showed up to stand with his driver.
Hopefully this will be a long-overdue turning point for the sport.