As I prepare to flip the calendar to August, it dawns on me that we’re mighty close to that time of year that is almost holy in this neck of the woods.
It’s almost football season.
For that matter, it’s almost hunting season. Strikes me that sporting enthusiasts are likely to have more success with hunting than they are with football this fall.
To be completely honest with you, I never played football and I only tried hunting once. I missed a deer but hit a squirrel. Go figure.
I do, however, love to hunt with my camera.
Anyway, back to football season. COVID-19 has thrown a monkey wrench into the season, delaying the start of the high school season. The college season is still in a state of flux and, well, I really don’t care much about pro football.
The decision by the Georgia High School Association to push back the start of the season two weeks was fine with me. Someone asked me why two weeks? Not having been in on those deliberations, my thought was that two weeks was the longest they could push it back and still get in a full schedule and playoffs.
But, let’s be real. COVID-19 is not going away between the third week of August and Labor Day. You might as well throw in Thanksgiving.
When it comes to the college game, it’s been interesting to see how some of the smaller divisions and conferences have opted to cancel the fall season. Here’s the gospel. They could do that because the amount of money that is involved is tiny compared to the so-called Power 5 conferences.
So what’s the deal with the decision by a couple of the Power 5 to cancel all nonconference games? What are they trying to tell us? It’s OK for a kid from Auburn who unknowingly has COVID-19 to tackle and sweat droplets all over a kid from Georgia or Alabama, but not a player from Alabama A&M or Alcorn State? Where’s the sense in that?
For the smaller schools to serve as sacrificial lambs to the big boys has always been kind of crazy to me, but it’s all about the money. I’m not privy to what the Power 5 pay to their weakling opponents but I guarantee it’s big bucks for the smaller schools. BIG BUCKS!
To set the record straight, I have not heard too many of the little guys complain about not getting a chance to take that fat check to the bank since all this mess started. I haven’t exactly figured that out.
As it relates to the high schools, GHSA leader Glenn White, a Floyd County school administrator, made it really clear leading into last week’s decision that he did not want to even think about calling off the season. He wants a return to some semblance of normalcy, not just for the kids, but for communities all over the state.
The question, though, is how many folks are going to be allowed to come watch the games in person? Will athletic directors put Xs in the bleachers six feet apart? Will fans all have to wear masks? What about the cheerleaders? Aren’t they spewing airborne droplets into the first row of the bleachers? I haven’t heard much about any of that.
I’ve written here before that I am not one who is going to stay at home because 1% of the general population is sick. (Yeah, I know the CDC said this week that the number of folks who are infected may be 10 times that number, but then it’s just 1 in 10) However, I am also on the record as saying I’m not going to wade into anything blindly.
I’m sure the powers that be would like to see 6,000 or more folks in the home stands at Barron Stadium for a Rome High football game, but is that really advisable right now?
Heck, I wonder it it’s advisable for someone to go into a crowded press box on Friday night.
Some of you may be aware that I’ve been a part of the Sonoraville High broadcast team on a low-power FM station in Calhoun for the past six years. That press box can get tight at times. I’m trying to envision myself calling a football game with a mask over my mouth. It’s not a pretty picture and I’m sure it would sound really wonky.
Flip back to the colleges for a second. Can you picture 90,000-plus in Sanford Stadium for a University of Georgia game this fall. I can’t. Not that the alumni and sidewalk alumni aren’t loyal to the Dawgs (insert Woof-woof) but I just don’t see that many people feeling comfortable filing into the stadium. How about 95,000 at Bryant-Denny Stadium? (insert — No, I just can’t say it!)
Don’t forget, we’ve still got a month to go and I’m not ruling out that either college or high school football could be scrapped all together if the numbers don’t turn in another direction.
If that happens, yikes!!! You have to remember that for the most part, high school and college athletic department budgets are based on revenue generated during football season.
A lot of colleges, particularly so-called mid-majors, have been dropping nonrevenue sports like a hot potato over the course of the last several months. That’s incredibly sad and unfortunate for a lot of young men and woman who might otherwise have been able to attract a scholarship in their sport of choice, whether it’s tennis, volleyball or lacrosse.
Right now, the teams I’m rooting for the most are the medical teams that are racing to develop an effective vaccine for this darned virus.
Goooooooo Docs! Go !