The NBA, NHL and WNBA all had their seasons finished in a bubble where everyone involved was isolated and constantly tested. The results were a smooth season that never saw interruptions other than one or two delays due to false positive tests and no one testing positive in the entirety of their time in the bubble.
Then came the NFL and NCAA with football. The two leagues that had the longest amount of time to get their priorities in order and had plenty of time to implement a strategy to play their seasons. I am not sure what they did with the time they had, but preparing was not what they did.
By my calculations college football has canceled or postponed 38 games since the start of the season. The NFL has had to move several of their games around to wait for tests to come back due to positive tests on one or both of the teams participating. I don’t know specifics as to what colleges or NFL teams allow or don’t allow their players to do when they aren’t practicing or playing, but it is apparent that they don’t make them stay in a safe area.
Almost daily there is more news out about positive tests from a player or multiple players. A positive COVID-19 test may have just cost Clemson a shot at the national championship because their star quarterback and predicted first overall draft pick in this years NFL draft, Trevor Lawrence tested positive and missed two games. One of those games was Saturday night against Notre Dame who is ranked in the top five in the country along with Clemson, and Notre Dame defeated Clemson.
Teams did not schedule much room for games that needed to be rescheduled so when the season ends instead of every team playing the same amount of games you may very well see teams with 10 games played, eight games and some even less. It is hard to rank teams this way when some have displayed a lot more on the field.
If you look at the positivity rates among players and personnel it actually isn’t bad. For example, from Aug. 1 through Oct. 31, 63 players and 99 personnel had positive cases. That was out of more than 550,000 tests. Over a half a million tests and only a combined 162 positive tests. I applaud that, but the problem is that these tests cause chaos amongst teams. Facilities shut down, games get moved, star players have to miss games.
It shouldn’t be this way. They had plenty of time to create a bubble within cities that could accommodate them and keep them safe and healthy. College football isn’t as easy because there are so many teams and you have to add in academics. College basketball conferences are looking at mini bubbles where anywhere from five to 10 teams will play each other round robin style at facilities where they can be isolated. Most school is virtual now anyway so they can still keep up with their academics. Conferences are looking at playing their schedules in a central location to cut down on traveling and the risk of exposure.
There are endless ways that football could have done this the right way, but they chose not to, and we are paying the price because so many games are being canceled, postponed or being played without players that make a major impact.
It is apparent that both the NFL and NCAA college football powers are just hoping to make it to the end of the season. At this point I don’t think it even matters to some who wins what, but that this nightmare can end. Remember the old saying “you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink?” Well that’s what happened with the NFL and college football. They were shown the ways that worked, they were shown what the risks and rewards were and decided they would do things their own way.
Until next time.