- Within the past week all of the ‘Power 5’ conferences have decided to play football this fall.
- This is in marked contrast to last month when only a handful of FBS conferences planned to play at all in 2020.
- The rationale for the flip flop is improved health and safety standards along with more widely available testing.
The legendary Yogi Berra is credited for the expression ‘It ain’t over until it’s over’ among countless other loquacious witticisms. That’s the perfect epigraph for the 2020 college football season. Just over a month ago it looked as if the only college football that would be contested this fall would be among a ragtag bunch of rogue schools that valued revenues more than the health and well being of their students. At least that was the dynamic as articulated by the pompous windbags of the mainstream sports media. The presumption was that any effort to play intercollegiate sports before the ghoulish Dr. Faucci gave his ascent was the height of irresponsibility that would result in campuses nationwide littered with the bodies of gridiron athletes.
Not even a last minute appeal by the sport’s elite athletes could change the course of events. Oddly enough, Clemson’s shaggy haired quarterback Trevor Lawrence took a position that made much more sense than anything coming out of college administrators’ offices:
“People are at just as much, if not more risk, if we don’t play. Players will all be sent home to their own communities where social distancing is highly unlikely and medical care and expenses will be placed on the families if they were to contract COVID-19. Not to mention the players coming from situations that are not good for them/ their future and having to go back to that. Football is a safe haven for so many people.”
“We are more likely to get the virus in everyday life than playing football. Having a season also incentivizes players being safe and taking all of the right precautions to try to avoid contracting covid because the season/ teammates safety is on the line. Without the season, as we’ve seen already, people will not social distance or wear masks and take the proper precautions.”
Although the power brokers of college sports brushed aside Lawrence’s borderline profound observations at the time this is essentially what is going on as the same colleges and conferences that were in a mad rush to hide in a dorm basement until some point in the foreseeable future have come around to the ‘Lawrence theory’–there’s significant upside to keeping college football players in a (relatively) safe and structured environment.
To hear the colleges say it, they were only doing what ‘the scientists’ suggested all along. They also act like the inevitable improvements in testing and lab capacity to process same is something dramatic and revolutionary. Take, for example, this soliloquy presumably uttered by Pac-12 windbag commissioner Larry Scott:
“Based upon updated Pac-12 COVID-19 Medical Advisory Committee recommendations that take into account material changes to testing capabilities, the prevalence of COVID-19 and cardiac issues, along with updated state and local health official guidance, the Conference will resume its football, basketball and winter sport seasons. The football season may now commence for those teams that have the necessary state and local health approvals on November 6.”
“From the beginning of this crisis, our focus has been on following the science, data and counsel of our public health and infectious disease experts. Our agreement with Quidel to provide daily rapid-results testing has been a game-changer in enabling us to move forward with confidence that we can create a safe environment for our student-athletes while giving them the opportunity to pursue their dreams. At the same time, we will continue to monitor health conditions and data and be ready to adjust as required in the name of the health of all.”
I’ll translate–the testing improvements gave the hypocrites that run college sports a plausible mea culpa so as to not have their reversal of course come off as the spineless flip flop it really is. The Big Ten reversed course and now conferences major and minor (ie: the Mountain West Conference) can’t wait to get a truncated schedule underway. It is what it is and I’ll leave the moralizing to the mainstream sports media blowhards. More action on the betting board is a good thing no matter the equivocation it took to make it happen.
POSTSCRIPT: Yes I’m aware that Gus–the protagonist of the eponymously named Disney Film–was a professional field goal kicking mule and not a college field goal kicking mule. The film’s human stars–Ed Asner and Don Knotts–look like Vince Lombardi and George Halas compared to the ‘braintrust’ that runs college football–and that make it imperative to use the picture I did.