PONTIFICATING FROM THE SUNSHINE STATE – APRIL 6
By Leo Haggerty

THE CAT’S OUT OF THE BAG

First of all, and I will start EVERY article with this paragraph, sports pales in comparison with what is occurring with the Coronavirus. Hopefully, the columns that I, and the rest of our correspondents, provide you is a momentary escape from the trials and tribulations that Americans, and the rest of the world’s population, are experiencing. The COVID-19 is not a video game that you can press reset and get a new life. This is real and dangerous so, above all, be prudent and stay safe.

Well, ladies and gentlemen, we now have a pretty good idea as to when we should expect to see sports returning in the United States.  The rescheduling of The Masters let the cat’s out of the bag.

The opening major of the 2020 professional golf season is always scheduled for early April.  When the COVID-19 virus reared its ugly head in the USA, the powers that be in Augusta decided to postpone the tournament to a later date.  Good call, guys.

That date is now official.  The Master will be played from November 12th to November 15th.  Yes, you read that correctly.  A couple of weeks before Thanksgiving.

So, how does the rescheduling of a golf tournament set the barometer as to when we will see sports returning? The fact that the decision was made to tee it up in the middle of November should throw up a big red flag for two huge reasons.

The first is the date.  The Masters, with is tradition, was going to have any date it so desired. Yet, they chose a date almost two weeks after the culmination of daylight saving time.

Why is that a problem?  Read on, grasshopper.

You will have to complete all rounds by 6 pm EST, at the latest, or darkness will become an issue.  To accomplish this, tee times will have to be scheduled much earlier than normal just to get the entire field through a complete round.

The second is the timing.  This would be right in the middle of the football season for both the NFL as well as the NCAA.  The Masters will be going head to head with a full slate of weekend football tilts.  Not a good choice, right?

The November date for The Masters should be the memo to sports fans. We all know that The Masters is steeped in tradition and does not like any type of change.

To see this radical deviation from what we see year after year in Georgia has to tell me one thing.  The organizers have had conversations with the best scientific minds and were told that the earliest the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expects the Coronavirus to be under control is the beginning of November.

With that knowledge in hand from the CDC, the tournament was scheduled a week later just to be safe.  The Masters had one shot to pick a date and, if it was too early and COVID-19 was still an issue, the only option then would be to cancel.  Nobody wants to see that.

Certainly, everyone associated with professional golf wanted no parts of pulling the plug on the most prestigious American golf extravaganza.  Henceforth, the middle of November date.  Better to be safe than sorry and deal with any weather issues that Mother Nature could present.

If all of the above statements are true, here’s the real kicker.  there will be no football to compete with on that weekend.  The Masters will be the only event in the nation.

Am I reading too much into this?  I don’t think so and only time will tell if I’m right or wrong.