When the NBA and NCAA basketball pumped the breaks on their seasons in March, the future of sports felt very much in question. Rumors, facts, conjecture, and misinformation all served to confuse the teams, their players, the media, and the fans.
Fast-forward a few months, the NBA bubble held up long enough to see the La Lakers take home a championship, the Los Angeles Dodgers triumphed in the World Series, and the Tampa Bay Lightning captured Lord Stanley’s Cup.
To the joy of football fans everywhere, the NFL and the NCAA made the necessary adjustments to get their seasons underway. Real live fans took the place of some cardboard cutouts as restrictions about if and how many fans could attend the games relaxed.
Albeit, the NCAA had a bigger challenge. Individual conferences were making the choices regarding who would play and notably the Big Ten and the Pac-12 halted their respective conferences games the longest. Big Ten football began in the latter part of October. Pac-12 games will commence the first weekend in November.
So, we can presume that the virus is at bay and the gridiron is a safe and spiffy place to be in the midst of a pandemic. Precautions and plans are in place. However, are the current precautions enough, one would hope.
Surely, the impact of Covid-19 on teams is minor to nil, right?
Oh, it’s not?
As of this writing, half of all the NFL teams have felt an impact from the Coronavirus. According to CBS Sports, “As of Friday morning, 50% of the league’s 32 teams are dealing with at least one case of Coronavirus. In total, 16 teams have either had to place a player on the reserve/COVID-19 list or had to shut down their facility due to a COVID scare.”
The NFL seems to keep rolling along despite flare-ups of the virus. With half the teams in the league following the infection protocols, it looks like fans should expect plenty of gaps in the team’s rosters.
Well, things must be fairing better for the NCAA, or not. While college football has different protocols across conferences, teams are losing players and games are being cancelled nationwide.
One of the most notable losses is Clemson Tiger’s superstar quarterback, Trevor Lawrence, who tested positive for the virus. Lawrence sat out the Tiger’s game against Boston College and is ineligible to play against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
For week 10, seven matchups are off the board, including the California /Washington game. The game was one of the anticipated Pac-12 games that were to be a part of the kickoff weekend. So far, the NCAA has seen 47 games postponed or cancelled with the hope of keeping students and staff safe from the virus.
The Pac-12 still has their first game on Fox Sports’ Big Noon Kickoff. The game featuring Arizona vs USC will kickoff at 9:00 am West Coast time. Oh, the pregame crew (Urban Meyer, Matt Leinart, Reggie Bush, Brady Quinn, and Rob Stone) are all out because of a Covid-19 quarantine.
So, in the strangest of seasons during the deadliest pandemic in our lifetimes, it is as close to business as usual as possible on the football field. The notion of whether or not it is wise, from a health standpoint, to play these games seems to be a non-issue at this point. Now it’s a matter of the consequences at the end of the season. No doubt, hindsight will be 20/20.