Slant Pattern’s College Sports Covid Landscape

Usually around this time of year (or actually, quite a bit before this) I unveil the world's earliest week 1 college basketball preview. Obviously that won't be possible this year, as leagues and teams are still figuring out scheduling, without much sorted beyond "games can start November 25th." I expect games will continue to be scheduled, for this season, even after November 25th.

But someone has to be first in finalizing and publishing out their non-con schedule, and per the estimable D1 Docket on Twitter, that honor goes to the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns. Good for them!

As I responded on Twitter, perhaps we should reward them by making the likely-blowout opener against Xavier appointment viewing.

No, not that Xavier. This Xavier is based in New Orleans, and is an NAIA Historically Black Catholic school. Their sports teams are the Gold Rush, and they were actually pretty good last year — they finished 27-6, won their conference tournament, and were slated to play in the NAIA tournament when the Covid shutdown happened.

(As an aside, are there any stranger nicknames in college sports than "Gold Rush" or "49ers" existing in states where those things did not happen? Granted, the Charlotte 49ers have an explanation of their nickname on their Wikipedia page, but it's pretty uncompelling.)

Speaking of college sports scheduling and Covid, check out what I wrote back on July 2nd: "It's going to be a weird season. Specifically, what I think you're going to get is something out of the 1910s or 1920s. Take a look at the Wikipedia entry for the 1925 college football season. Oglethorpe played 11 games. Georgetown (Kentucky), a member of the very same conference, played 3."

Did I call it or did I call it? I just can't decide whether to have my new forehead tattoo read "The New Nostradamus" or simply "Genius."

While the fan in me is, of course, happy that the Big Ten, Pac 10, MAC, and Mountain West are coming back after all, the guy-who-cares-about-public-safety in me is uneasy about this, and feels this has less to do with new public health information and more to do with caving to public pressure.

Remember, the reason that the Big Ten originally decided to pull the plug on football this fall — after they had already published an amended schedule — was due to concerns about Covid's long term effects on the heart. "Conference officials and athletic directors told ESPN that the uncertainty about the long-term effects of myocarditis has been discussed in meetings of presidents and chancellors, commissioners and athletic directors, and health advisory board members from the Big Ten, Pac-12 and other conferences around the country," the article says.

In returning to football, the Big Ten is very, very robustly monitoring cardiac information in its athletes. Monitoring, yes, but if a player gets myocarditis, and we don't know about the long-terms effects of myocarditis, then what is all of that monitoring going to accomplish?

Of course, getting a very early diagnosis on such things is an invaluable jump-start on effective treatment, but I have yet to read, "Turns out there's no danger regarding the long-term effects of myocarditis," which means the end of the day, the concerns of the health officials the Big Ten initially heeded have gone unresolved.

Let's be honest with ourselves here. I'm using the Big Ten as an example, but all of the conferences are coming back because, like a burst dam, the decision-makers reached a point where the public pressure exceeded the level of their desire to protect the health of student-athletes.

The public, boosters, and players saw the SEC playing and cried until they got to come back too. It's notable that every conference in FBS followed the Big Ten's lead, with not a single holdout refraining from saying, "Okay, we'll come back after all" even though you haven't heard of any sort of eureka moment in terms of new understanding of Covid's long-term effects of the heart, to say nothing of available vaccines or new treatments.

Now, who knows a good tattoo artist?

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