PONTIFICATING FROM THE SUNSHINE STATE – NOVEMBER 19
By Leo Haggerty

WHAT’S THE NEXT STEP

Normally, I would be posting my Shooting The Bull column which is a Zoom meeting with Bulls Head Coach Jeff Scott about his thoughts on the upcoming opponent.  Sadly, that is not the case this week.

The USF home contest with Navy, scheduled for Saturday at Raymond James Stadium, was postponed earlier this week.  Due to Covid-19, South Florida does not have enough players that would be able to participate.  Hopefully, the game can be played at a later date but that, at this time, is supposition.

Now, before you throw the Green & Gold under the bus, take a moment to survey the national landscape when it comes to college football.  This is not an isolated incident, to say the least.

Just last week, 10 NCAA Division I tilts could not be played because of coronavirus outbreaks on one or both of the teams.  Already this week, 13 games will not be played, and expect that number to increase before Saturday.  Don’t be surprised if the cancellations continue to climb in the following weeks especially with the anticipated start of the basketball and hockey season right around the corner.

So, let’s examine what I believe needs to happen when it comes to collegiate sports, shall we?  In my opinion, the NCAA has two viable options.

The first is an extremely conservative one and it is to shut down all sports immediately until January 15th.  This would give the virus, which almost every medical expert is predicting to spike from Thanksgiving through Christmas and into the New Year’s holiday season, a chance to run its course without the help of large gatherings.  That would give the powers-that-be time to come up with a plan as to whether it is safe to proceed with the Winter Sports season.

The second is a more radical one and that would be to open up all venues completely to spectators.  Basically, it’s saying that if you want to watch a collegiate sporting event, come at your own risk.  There could be 100,000 or more fans there cheering on their respective teams and you, as one of those patrons, would have to trust that someone else in attendance is not infected.

Here’s the big problem with both scenarios.  College and universities are hemorrhaging financially.  They are losing money by the millions of dollars.  In fact, some institutions of higher learning are on the brink of being forced to shutter their athletic programs.

Even worse, you can bet that there are some schools that are having serious discussions among their leadership as to whether they have to close down entirely.  That could become a stark reality for many campuses throughout the country if tuition money dries up due to students and parents deeming it unsafe to return for the Spring semester.

Honestly, I’m glad all I have to do is write about this situation.  If I were in the shoes of the decision-makers, I truly cannot tell you what decision I would make.  Do I put the safety of the students and athletes above the financial ruin of the institution I represent?  As you can see, not an easy choice.

There is one decision that I would mandate immediately and that is wear a mask when you are out in public.  That protects everyone around you and is the right thing to do.

For those who think it’s such a sacrifice to mask up or it infringes on your rights, I will give you the comment that Rick Moore, our KSP/ISM correspondent who handles the NFC West, made to me earlier this week on that very subject.  He said, “My dad and your dad both served in World War II.  That’s a sacrifice.  Wearing a mask is not.”

Well said, Father.  I couldn’t have done it any better so I won’t even try.

STAY SAFE.  PLEASE.