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December Madness

The world has gone mad.

I don't say this lightly. I've seen a lot of craziness in my seven decades on this planet.

But nothing quite like the present mix of insanity in sports and politics, which involves massive groups of people.

A deadly pandemic rages across our country, out of control, setting new highs in cases, hospitalizations and deaths virtually every day. The situation is so bad that an American now dies every 35 seconds from COVID.

Meanwhile, a President who has gone AWOL from his responsibilities, is instead playing golf, pushing baseless claims of voter fraud in the recent election, and mulling pardons for his grifter family and all the “best people” in his administration who’ve been criminally charged, convicted or investigated.

Donald Trump and his crack team of lawyers have spread a torrent of lies and bogus claims about massive fraud, dead people voting, lost ballots, illegal ballots, and observers being denied access. They’ve contested votes in Michigan counties that are actually located in Minnesota. They’ve spewed insane theories about Iran and China conspiring with election officials to ensure Joe Biden's victory by using rigged Dominion voting machines manufactured in Venezuela for Hugo Chavez (who died in 2013).

Two of his supporters, retired Air Force General Thomas McInerney and wacko Republican Congressman Louis Gohmert of Texas, have posited that Army Special Forces soldiers were recently killed in Frankfurt, Germany, in a firefight with CIA operatives guarding a secret server farm allegedly carrying evidence of Dominion’s election theft.

I kid you not.

Never mind that Trump’s lawyers have produced zero evidence for any of these charges.

Never mind that the Department of Homeland Security official who oversees elections, Chris Krebs, termed the 2020 election “the most secure in the history of our country.”

Never mind that Attorney General Bill Barr, a Trump lackey who up to this point has served more as the president’s personal attorney than as an impartial seeker of justice, concluded there wasn’t evidence of fraud that would affect the outcome of the election.

Fortunately, none of this nonsense has gained any traction. So far. Trump’s lawyers have been laughed out of 35 court rooms, almost all presided upon by conservative judges. He paid for recounts in Wisconsin that produced additional votes for Biden, and he was rebuffed by Republican officials in Georgia, Michigan and Arizona that he tried to coerce (bribe?) into overturning the election.

Despite these setbacks, legions of Trump lemmings, egged on by the president, his henchmen and Fox News, believe the election was "stolen.”

General Mike Flynn, last week pardoned by the President after twice pleading guilty to perjury, has now called on Trump to “immediately declare a limited form of Martial Law and temporarily suspend the Constitution and civilian control of these federal elections for the sole purpose of having the military oversee a national re-vote.”

The president’s former lawyer, Sidney Powell, one of the early proponents of the Venezuelan garbage, has called for a coup and “military tribunals.”

The once respected, now senile former mayor of New York, Rudy Giuliani, has called multiple news conferences to declare the president “won in a landslide,” once again demonstrating that the most dangerous place in America is the space between Rudy and a microphone.

Meanwhile, a few courageous Republican souls have stood up to the president and stood up for democracy—the Georgia Secretary of State, election clerks in Michigan, a county Supervisor in Arizona, several conservative judges in Pennsylvania, and the governors of Georgia and Arizona.

Their reward for simply doing their jobs and telling the truth—abusive Trump tweets, hysterical Fox News rants, and, in some cases, death threats.

Joe diGenova, one of Trump’s legal beagles, appeared on television to demand that Krebs, the former DHS official, be “drawn and quartered,” “shot at dawn.”

It fell to Gabriel Sterling, the voting system implementation manager in Georgia, and a Republican, to call for Trump to “stop inspiring people to commit potential acts of violence. Someone’s going to get hurt. Someone’s going to get shot. Someone’s going to get killed. It has to stop.”

Something else has to stop. Football.

The folly of trying to play football during the pandemic has reached epic heights.

As COVID kills nearly as many people per day as died on 911, football continues to be played at the college and professional level, often in communities where the virus is spiking, putting thousands of athletes, coaches and support staff at risk.

Schedules have become a joke, as game after game after game is cancelled. The games that are played are not legitimate contests, because so many key players and coaches must sit out because of positive COVID tests or exposure to the virus.

Last week the Denver Broncos were reduced to playing a wide receiver from their practice squad at quarterback when all four of their QBs were disqualified by COVID.

A public health ban on contact sports in Santa Clara County has forced the San Francisco 49ers to spend the next two weeks—at least—practicing and hosting games in Arizona, where the virus is actually spiking higher than in Northern California.

Because of the same ban, at the college level, Stanford’s football team must relocate to Washington and Oregon. Earlier, the Cardinal had to move its practices to another county.

Roughly 30% of college games have been cancelled. The Pac-12, which trumped a “game changer” testing regimen, has had more cancellations per capita than any other conference.

Athletes are being infected on a daily basis. The long-term consequences of the virus, according to many experts, may be quite serious.

As we’ve written on several occasions, the decision to play the 2020 football season was hypocritical, irresponsible and indefensible. It was a decision made by men who are more interested in balancing their budgets than ensuring the health and safety of their athletes.

And as the weeks have passed, this disgraceful decision to put wealth over health has become even more dangerous and disastrous.

Football may be our most popular sport. But it’s not essential.

Let’s stop the madness.


Gary Cavalli - Bowl and League co-founder, author, speaker 

Gary Cavalli, the former Sports Information Director and Associate Athletic Director at Stanford University, was co-founder and executive director of the college football bowl game played in the Bay Area, and previously was co-founder and President of the American Basketball League.

Get in touch//@cavalli49//

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