Thursday, August 13, 2020

What to Do With No College Football This Fall

By Kevin Beane

... or at least, much less than we're used to.

Yesterday (Monday, August 10th), there was a whirlwind of speculation that the Power 5 conferences, some of whom had just released conference-only schedules less than a week ago, were prepared to pull the plug on the football season (for fall, anyway). That hasn't happened yet, and there has been some backtracking, but at this point, it's highly unlikely there will be anything but a skeleton fall season at best.

If they play, Covid will spread.

Let me tell you why I say that.

A couple of days ago, the Cleveland Indians discovered pitcher Zach Plesac violated protocol and left his hotel. They made him drive back to Cleveland from Chicago and now he is in quarantine and will not be able to play indefinitely.

Only it turns out he wasn't alone. He was with fellow starting pitcher Mike Clevenger, but Clevenger (briefly) "got away" with it. Clevenger sat in on meeting where they discussed Plesac and kept mum. He flew home with the team when Plesac was made to drive home. If Clevenger does turn out to have Covid, then he exposed his whole damn team to it, including Carlos Carrasco, who is recovering from leukemia and probably doesn't have the strongest immune system right now.

If athletes on a team of 28 (is that what it is right now, or still 30?) "professionals" can't be trusted not to act like sneaky, think-they're-invincible 14-year-olds, (even putting aside the outbreaks we have seen on the Cardinals and Marlins), then what are the chances that teams of nearly 100 college boys can?

There's is no chance. It will be Clevengers over and over again, and while Clevenger and Plesac may test negative for Covid, not every team and player will be so lucky.

I think that's starting to dawn on college presidents and conferences commissioners, which is why we are now waiting for the other shoe to drop.

So, maybe the SEC will play a few games before they have to reckon with reality, but there is virtually no chance we will get meaningful college football in the fall. For the pros, we will have to wait and see.

This sucks hard for a lot of people. It's obviously a first-world problem and I don't pretend it's anything but.

That said, there are ways to cope. Here are three:

1. Watch some high-level high school football.

I'm guessing that not all 50 states will refrain from fall high school football, so there will be live games to watch on Youtube, but also scads of recorded games. Just get creative with your searches. Examples: "(state) high school football" "(state) HS football" "football game of the week" are good searches to start with. Filter by "long" videos," and within the last day/week/month/year. Obviously, if it's a Friday night, or Saturday afternoon, it's worth searching through live channels, which YouTube allows you to filter to just live sports.

I've been doing that over the summer. If you watch playoffs and state championships, you particularly can expect a high level of football that's pleasing to the eye. I particularly enjoyed watching last years "4A" Louisiana state finals between two New Orleans schools, Edna Karr and Easton. There were no announcers, so you got to soak in even more of the ambience as the players experience it — the thrill of playing where to big boys play, the Saints' fleur-de-lis at midfield, the barriers decorated with Sugar Bowl prints.

2. Watch some football from when you were a kid.

I grew up in the '80s, and I can't tell you what a nostalgic, relaxing balm it is for me to watch '80s football.

Some hero put together a list of 1985 college football games on YouTube that I am loving working may way through Look in particular at 1985 game between Penn State and Maryland. It's in College Park, and midfield, the end zone, and the TV graphics all feature Maryland logos so relegated to the dustbin of history that I, a logo junkie, had never seen any of them before. And check out the refs in shorts and tube socks!

At any rate, I was 9 in 1985, and whether you were 9 in 1975, 1985, 1995, 2005, or 2010, college football games await you and fun "I remember that!"'s do, too. The same applies for the NFL, CFL, and USFL. All can be found on YouTube.

3. Get into a new sport.

I've already talked about how I've come to enjoy Rocket League, an e-sport that is basically "car soccer" and very sportsy. I like how esports, by their nature, are largely immune from Covid cancellations. But if you want real live-action sports being played by humans, remember that Europe seems to be doing a way better job at handling Covid than we are, so it might be time to start learning about sports popular in Europe, but not in the States. I'm thinking of dipping my toe into handball, myself.

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