PONTIFICATING FROM THE SUNSHINE STATE – JUNE 22
By Leo Haggerty

A TRIAD OF OTHER OPINIONS

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.

Folks, you are in luck.  Three of our contributors were so moved by my Saturday column on what will happen to sports if they don’t return until September of 2021 that they had to respond.

Below are the opinions that they shared with me and I realized immediately that our devoted readers needed to hear this trio of divergent thoughts.  Enjoy.

JOHN LENTZ – NCAA MEN’S BASKETBALL ANALYST
Leo, you be right but, maybe, that’s what is needed to put everything back in perspective. Nobody is worth the money these athletes are being paid and the pros are about to price the fans out of attending events! Just some ramblings from a guy from the Borough!

STEVE JACOBON – PHOTOJOURNALIST
Leo, great info, but let me provide you with somewhat of a glass half-full perspective that I believe will happen.  Because the powers that be are aware of what you clearly pointed out in your column, you could, quite possibly, be dead on, no pun intended.   Money, of course, is at the heart of the matter although many, of course, don’t want to admit that.

I believe because of the money at stake for all, especially with college sports and the funding universities are used to, we may see a “next man up” approach.  The Bucs head coach, Bruce Arians, already is envisioning that by keeping the #1 and #2 QB’s in camp, while the #3 stays away in case he is needed if Brady and Gabbert (the current #2) test positive for Covid-19.   Why is he doing that, you ask?  That’s so everyone else can continue to play Covid free until they get it, then next man up.  College, of course, will be a much slippery slope.  That’s because it’s not like they can go out and get anyone beyond the practice squad like in pro sports.  The college talent poll is severely limited and the Texas A&M 12th man may become a nationwide reality.

But, in a nutshell, that’s what I think would happen.  And I’m being, again, more positive in my thinking even with no vaccination in place.  I think we will see the athletes that do get Covid back on the gridiron in 2 weeks after minor treatment and moving on like it was the flu.  Ironically, to some people’s way of thinking, after recovering the likeliness of getting it again during the season will be extremely low.  Let’s hope that is true.

So, that is my thoughts on the glass half-full approach.   Incidentally, we may see a preview of this because, right now, there are a lot of athletes, including Ezekiel Elliot of the Cowboys with it and, if these guys recoup within next 2 weeks, I think the growing consensus is going to play as I suggested.  Hibernate (or quarantine) for 2 weeks and come back and put the pads on.  We’ll see.

But to flip back to your side, if the 2 weeks goes by and there are complications like more detrimental health concerns arising such as lung issues or worse, then all bets are off.  That will freak everyone out and point out that people in extremely good physical condition like football players, especially a high profile one, can get Covid from practice and his life is in jeopardy.  If that happens, then all bets are really off and the NFL is running for cover.  That hasn’t happened yet with none of the big sports having started to compete again, but that may make everyone change their mind that money can’t rule this thing.

However, with football players being known for their toughness and willingness to play through anything, they NFL may roll the dice and play.  I think many saw notable names like Tom Hanks (an elderly actor), and Sean Payton (Saints coach), get it and come out strong on the other side healthy and that bodes well for the league.

Time will tell.  Anyway, my 2 cents of pontificating.  You agree that anything of this may occur?

JAMES CARLSON – GUEST CONTRIBUTOR
Leo, regrettably, I believe the scenario you are describing has become the path we are traveling.
I’ve spoken with no fewer than 4 college presidents and I know and they are all very unsettled and uncertain on how to proceed. I previously thought we had a good shot at avoiding this scenario but the politicization of a public health crisis, together with ignorance, selfishness and impatience has torpedoed whatever chance we had a couple months ago.
Careers have ended for some who have yet to realize it.  Leo, like you, I sure hope I’m wrong.
Well, ladies and gentlemen, there you have it.  Three diverse opinions on what my colleagues believe the landscape of sports will become as we move forward.
Which one of the four of us is right?  Your guess is good as mine so stayed turned for further updates as they become available.