Football is quite literally, my favorite. This stupid game has been my favorite to watch from the first time I set foot on a set of bleachers during a game in Junior High. All my friends were there to support their boyfriends. I was yelling at their boyfriends to block better. So please, don’t think this is some anti-football bias coming out to play – my bias is player-focused, even when I think some of the players are wrong.
COVID-19 has taken so much from many people. I completely understand the pull to not let it take sports, too. The economic issues of the sports biz, the mental health of players and coaches, and teams and conferences feel like they have to hold up their end of contracts with TV networks, I’m sure. But, also, yanno, we’re in the middle of a pandemic.
Much of the country is in a period of massive uncontrolled spread. A lot of hospitals are full, as over 100,000 Americans a day come down with COVID. We are two weeks out from the Thanksgiving holiday, where a full 35% of the population is not going to give a damn about distancing or travel restriction suggestions or masks. Many hospitals have full COVID areas, and are on their way to stopping surgeries and going into the next phase before crisis standards of care kick in – if they aren’t already there.
See that little orange dot on the map for Boise State in southern Idaho? There are currently nine players out with positive COVID tests.
I am also currently tuned into to a TV, watching the team from that orange dot run around on The Blue. So far, it’s taken a blowout the likes that 2010 Boise State liked to deliver and a LOT of special teams magic, as well as some alcohol, to get me to the point where I’m sort of enjoying it. I probably shouldn’t have watched it. Better, truer Bronco fans than I are basically covering their eyes and walking away from supporting what can (and should!) be seen as exploitation of football players for money and entertainment.
What happens in a couple of weeks when BSU plays SJSU, if there is a bad injury requiring hospitalization and the city of Boise has no hospital space and is flying patients to Portland, Seattle, Spokane, and SLC (if they’re accepting them)? That scenario is playing out in way too many places.
I don’t care if the players wanted to play. I don’t care that the coaches thought it was a good idea. I don’t care about the money or the rankings or the tradition or any of it. What I do care about is viral spread in my community, due to the long-term effects of COVID-19 being so unknown. Risking a brain injury that cannot be transmitted to others is one decision that players make all the time. It’s another to make a decision to risk themselves and everyone they come into close or extended contact with. Football should not be the reason that “staying home is impossible.” Football should be the reason we made sure they did.
That’s where a leader who can listen to experts has to stand up. Unfortunately, there seem to be too many people who don’t see the risk and are ignoring the warnings, plowing ahead anyway. Usually maskless and screaming, but sometimes Just Asking Questions and using what little power and influence they’ve amassed to put bad alternatives out to good ideas.
I love seeing how football players learn, execute, and change their games over time. How the dynamics of each game plays out each week is what keeps me tuning in and showing up at every chance. The sounds of pads popping and a crowd yelling to crescendo is the soundtrack to a lot of the good moments in my life.Embed from Getty Images
Even with all that said… cancel the games again. Football only works in a healthy community. We don’t have that right now. What we have are problems. Big ones. A lot of death, a lot of sickness, a lot of stress, and a lot of ill-informed plans and ideas. This is why we’re seeing game cancellations ramp due to players being out, why we’re seeing school go back online, why our hospital personnel are screaming for help, and why I and so many others have barely left our homes for anything other than grocery pickup since March. Let’s not add more.
Since they won’t really cancel anything until a national champion has been named because there’s a different kind of sickness inside college football… I guess I’ll keep the soothing football noises on and keep cheering on my dudes. Even if I hate that they are there for me to see.