The Couch Slouch

An update on when all the sports will return

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According to The New York Times the other day, "nearly every sporting event, major and minor, has been canceled, moved or postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic." I did not know that – largely because I have been lying prone on a foam mattress under my couch in self-isolation, awaiting word of life outside – but they are the paper of record, so I believe them.

"The question now, to which no one really knows the answer," The Times wrote, "is when games will come back."

Well, I thought to be myself, if no one really knows the answer, I really have time right now to find the answer. So I got on the horn – that's a late 19th-century expression for making a phone call – and contacted every single sports league and federation.

Here's where we stand:

Olympics. The 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo had been pushed back to 2021. But the Summer Games are now going to push back to 2022, to coincide with the Winter Games – however, not in Beijing, where the Winter Games were originally scheduled. Rather, borrowing from Mark Twain's phrase, "If you don't like the weather in [fill in the blank], just wait five minutes," the unprecedented Summer-Winter twin bill will be in Bismarck, North Dakota, for maximum climatic flexibility.

PGA. The tour returns June 11, with nearly a full slate of events for the rest of the year. Alas, there will be a stunning modification: If neither Tiger Woods nor Phil Mickelson is in the top 10 through three rounds, the event will end on Saturday after 54 holes, and the two golfing icons then will go head-to-head in "The Match" on Sunday. It will be marketed "winner take all," but, heck, it probably won't be.

NBA and NHL. In a groundbreaking compact, the two leagues will converge, with all 61 teams occupying Biosphere 2 in Oracle, Ariz. Originally intended to study the use of closed biospheres in space colonization, Biosphere 2 will be reconfigured to resemble Madison Square Garden and Xcel Energy Center, allowing the leagues to complete their 2019-20 seasons. Unlimited seating is available through Ticket Master and StubHub.

NCAA. Everything in Division 1 sports is on hold, forcing overcrowding in our institutions of higher learning's virtual classrooms online as many student-athletes attend courses and seminars for the first time. Note: Even if college football season is canceled, all bowl games will be played as scheduled, with Alabama meeting Clemson for the national championship.

Horse racing. Taking advantage of the postponement of the Kentucky Derby and the indefinite closure of most racetracks, the nation's thoroughbreds voted, 198,269-3, to never race again. "We're done," 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah said from his stud farm in Versailles, Kent. "If anyone had ever bothered to ask, we would've told them that we hate to race."

UFC. Due to brush back from various localities and ESPN in regard to the wisdom of mixed martial arts bouts returning mid-pandemic – and in case the three cards planned for Jacksonville next month are scratched – Dana White plans to pivot to cockfighting and dogfighting pay-per-view events. Jim Gray has been hired as the sideline reporter.

World Series of Poker. I will host it Nov. 19-21 at my 1,300-square-foot home in Los Angeles. Yes, social distancing will be a problem, but we'll figure it out. In addition, players' $10,000 Main Event entry fee will include a choice of Toni's fabulous pesto-crusted salmon on a bed of wilted spinach or Toni's sublime chicken breast in artichoke champagne sauce.

Boston Marathon. Postponed until Sept. 14, America's premier long-distance foot race will shift the competition to NordicTrack Commercial X32i treadmills at 1,400 Planet Fitness locations nationwide, via Zoom.

NFL. The season actually will start on schedule Sept. 10, with sold-out stadiums. The biggest concern will be proper implementation of former replay rules in regard to pass interference – and potential negative fan feedback – because, now, more than ever, you want to get it right.

Major League Soccer. There are no plans to ever resume MLS, unless five or six people create a groundswell.

Ask The Slouch

Q. Have you considered moving to Georgia? They opened up their bowling alleys last week. (Levi Goldfarb; Temple Hills, Md.)

A. There is a time to bowl, and this is not it; I am honoring the sport with a beer frame nightly at home.

Q. Would you consider MLB's light punishment to the Red Sox in the 2018 video cheating scandal the proverbial "slap on the wrist"? (Jessica Abrams; Portland, Ore.)

A. Actually, it felt more like a "Go get 'em, boys!" slap on the butt.

Q. Thanks for giving us some out-loud guffaws. When did you write for "I Love Lucy"? (Karen Hoffman; McLean, Va.)

A. That was before my time – I wrote for "Here's Lucy."

Q. When the NBA resumes play, will Commissioner Adam Silver mandate that defensive players stay six feet away from offensive players? Oh, wait! (Mike Kupiec; Green Island, N.Y.)

A. Pay the man, Shirley.

You, too, can enter the $1.25 Ask The Slouch Cash Giveaway. Just email asktheslouch@aol.com and, if your question is used, you win $1.25 in cash!


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College football needs to call a timeout on the 2020 season.

The Big Ten and Pac-12 are set to announce, maybe today, perhaps in a few weeks, whether they will play football this fall.

Already the Ivy League, Mountain West and Mid-American Conference have canceled their fall football season for health and safety reasons amid the coronavirus pandemic. The Power 5 conferences – the Big Ten, Pac-12, Atlantic Coast Conference, Big 12 and Southeastern Conference – should get onboard and put their football seasons on hold, too.

While some elected officials without medical degrees say that coronavirus amounts to little more than sniffles for young people, healthcare experts argue that college-age people, while they do recover quickly and may not exhibit symptoms, do contract and spread the virus.

There has been a 90 percent increase of young people testing positive for the virus in the past four weeks. More important, health experts say they can't measure the long-term effects of the virus, which may include brain damage, heart disease and reduced lung capacity.

There is a simple solution to play or not play college football this fall – postpone the season to next spring, when health experts will know more about the disease. There possibly could be a vaccine by then, which would allow fans back in stadiums.

Many high-profile college players and coaches weighed in on the debate Monday, almost unanimously saying that the 2020 football schedule should be played on schedule, starting in a few weeks.

Players, including Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence and Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields, adopted the hashtag #WeWantToPlay. In a tweet, Lawrence said that players would be more at risk for coronavirus if the fall season doesn't move forward. "We are more likely to get the virus in everyday life than playing football."

Lawrence added that, if the football season is canceled or postponed, players "will be sent home to their own communities where social distancing is highly unlikely."

Alabama coach Nick Saban told ESPN, "Look, players are a lot safer with us than they are running around at home."

Two points: University presidents should listen to only one group of people – healthcare professionals – when they decide whether to cancel or postpone the fall football season. Yes, players want to play during this pandemic. But players also want to play when they are injured or their brain was just scrambled by a vicious tackle. We applaud athletes who play with a broken leg. We see players with concussions plead with their coaches to put them back in the game.

As for the argument that players are more likely to catch the virus if they're sent home – who's sending them home? These are student-athletes. Students. Most college campuses will be open with students attending classes this fall. Major college programs like Clemson have 85 full scholarships designated for football. Colleges won't take away players' scholarships if the football season is canceled. Clemson's campus will open Sept. 21 for in-person classes.

ESPN college football analyst Greg McElroy also said the season should be played as scheduled: "If they're (players) OK, then I'm OK." Texas governor Greg Abbott chimed in on the players' side. He said, "It's their careers, it's their health."

What "careers" is he talking about? There are about 775 colleges that play football. Only 1.7 percent of all those players will play in the NFL or another professional league. On Sept. 3, Rice University will play Army. It is unlikely that any of those players will have a career in football. However, given the excellence of academics at those colleges, players will have career opportunities in something other than football. The average NFL career is 2-1/2 years. Rice and Army grads can top that.

The NBA is completing its season in a bubble in Orlando, with players confined to their hotels between games. Only 22 teams are in Orlando for the lockdown. The Rockets organization sent about 35 people, including coaches, players and essential personnel to Orlando.

Baseball is playing its season outside a bubble. So many players are testing positive for coronavirus that MLB commissioner Rob Manfred last week threatened to end the season if teams don't do a better job of enforcing the league's health protocol. What's left is an unbalanced season. For example, the Atlanta Braves and Seattle Mariners have played 18 games, while the St. Louis Cardinals have played only five games. The ironically first-place Miami Marlins, which had 18 players test positive, have played only 10 games.

College football can't be played in a bubble. There are too many teams, with some having more than 100 players and 20 coaches. And no sport thrives on fans' excitement and marching bands like college football. Several colleges, including the University of Texas and Texas A&M, have stadiums that hold more than 100,000 fans. Even if college football could be played in a bubble, it would require isolating players from August to January, when they're supposed to be in class. I know … supposed.

This one is easy. For the health and safety of players, play the fall 2020 season in spring 2021.

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