Fall sports in peril
Excitement for football season was piqued this week by the announcement of the Kansas City Chief’s 10-year deal worth up to $503 million, with quarterback Patrick Mahomes. After leading the Chiefs to a Super Bowl title in just his third year in the league, the phenom became the NFL’s first half-a-billion-dollar man.
Normally, teams and players make deals like this in early July, days before NFL training camps open at the end of the month, to build excitement for the coming season. But this year, anticipation is tempered.
The world has been fighting the COVID-19 pandemic for going on seven months. Around the globe, life has been interrupted. At a time when distractions from the reality of life is needed more than ever, sports leagues worldwide have taken steps to protect their teams and fans by postponing or cancelling seasons or playing without fans present.
Some sports have been able to resume, but in the United States, football is king. And now, despite hope that the coming season would be able to go forward as normal, there are signs that normality is still out of arm’s reach.
There has been a mindset to be as conservative as possible regarding decision making for the fall, however, this week the Ivy League announced it would not participate in fall sports, the Big 10 said its teams would only play an in-conference schedule, and others, including the Southeastern Conference, are making ancillary plans to try to salvage part or the entirety of the season.
With billions of dollars already lost this year, the bleeding, unfortunately, will continue. With college sports’ spring schedule cancelled and professional sports delayed and working diligently to play, there was hope we could get the virus under control. That hasn’t happened, and our society is staring into the face of a fall without its favorite sports.
Considering the lingering economic and emotional stress of the disease and social distancing, anxiety about the reopening of schools and businesses, and the rightful re-examination of our nation’s history of racial strife, the loss of high school, collegiate, and professional football will have another profound impact on our nation’s psyche, one I don’t believe we’ve experienced yet. A reckoning will be at hand.
While sports have previously been cancelled, as a result of World War II, they have endured since. Frustration and anger will rise because people will lose something they truly cherish, and they’ll realize they could have taken steps to better ensure our nation took proper precautions and put ourselves in a much more promising position to curb the disease and begin getting back the life – and its enjoyment – we know.
There’s a meme making its way around the internet this week that says, “If the CDC told people that staying inside for 14 days would save the college football season, the entire South would be locked in their rooms right now.”
It may be too late to save the entirety of the 2020 football season, but it’s solid advice. If you want football this fall, listen to medical experts, mask up when in public, and be smart about what you do and how you do it. The ball is in your hands, it’s up to you to get us over the goal line.