Each day I wake up and see a new group of people screaming at some national sportswriter about how they don’t want sports to come back.
I’m here to tell you that I doubt any of you want football back next month as much as I do. My work here at Black Shoe Diaries likely depends on it. My full-time job returning certainly depends on it, and generally speaking it would be nice to have the slightest bit of a return to normalcy.
As of now, the NCAA Division I FBS football season is scheduled to start with Week Zero on August 29 after recent changes made to the schedule. Which would be really cool, if it were not completely and utterly insane.
I’ve sat back and watched the last couple weeks as bubbled sports leagues such as the NBA, NHL and MLS have relatively successfully restarted their respective seasons. And if there were a way for college sports to take place in a bubble I’d be all in.
Alas, there is not. Instead, we’re about two weeks about from dropping more than 30,000 people into little old State College, Pennsylvania from across the country in the (continued) peak of a pandemic. The number of people arriving on campus for the upcoming semester essentially doubles the size of the town, which listed a population of 42,352 on the last census.
Mind you, this will be happening in similarly sized towns and schools across the country, including those that are current hot spots. Through the last round of testing by Penn State Athletics, eight athletes out of 466 tested as of July 24 had come up positive for COVID-19, a not all that shocking number (though it may be shocking to them). However, what will that number look when these athletes begin to rub elbows day-to-day with the rest of the incoming student body, a student body that will be largely untested before coming to campus and has surely interacted with hundreds of thousands of other people before leaving for school.
And we haven’t gotten into the concept of regular travel and game play. We’ve already seen what happens when a league doesn’t have strict rules and a bubble with the Miami Marlins outbreak. Now consider that it seems like the Marlins somehow didn’t pass the virus to the Phillies during their opening series. Will football players be so lucky without the luxury of keeping distance while playing? Who knows, but I’d be lying if I said I were optimistic.
For the last two weeks I’ve repeatedly said aloud to a friend of mine: “we’re really just going to send everyone back to school in a month as if everything were fine.”
The goal of this was the hope that if I said it enough times that I would somehow be able to rationalize it eventually. I’ve yet to reach that goal. As I said to start, I’m not sure anyone wants this all to work more than I do, but on its face this all seems so patently absurd.