CANCEL CULTURE

This may seem like a no-win situation, but there's an easy solution

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The Southeastern Conference, Atlantic Coast Conference and Big 12 can announce their fall football schedules and scramble for non-conference patsies - I'll be stunned if any games are played. If the season does start, it will end abruptly. It's too risky. There's just too much at stake. Like the old baseball sayin' – just wait till next year.

Cancel college football now.

Heck, the Olympics postponed the biggest event in all of sports this summer until next summer, and Olympic organizers and Japanese officials aren't positive the Games will happen even then.

They postponed the Boston Marathon, Kentucky Derby, Masters golf tournament, Tour de France, Burning Man, Emmy and AVN Awards. And flat out canceled March Madness, Wimbledon, Little League World Series, the Houston Rodeo, Calgary Stampede and most of the Major League Baseball season.

If this year in sports were reduced to Twitter shorthand, it'd be "smh." What is so special or essential about college football, especially in the face of a pandemic that has paralyzed the rest of American society?

We don't have to wonder or predict: we already know that students are bringing highly contagious coronavirus to campus during move-in days this week. Watch the local news. College students are returning to campus without face masks, some making jokes about drinking Corona beer, waiting for frat parties to begin.

North Carolina, a member of the ACC, opened its campus to in-person classes last week, and sent everybody back home this week. Michigan State has told students to wait and study online in the meantime. Notre Dame has a "Temporarily Closed" sign on classroom doors. An entire sorority at Oklahoma State is in quarantine. Schools across the country are reporting or preparing for spikes in the virus.

The Big Ten and Pac-12, two of the Power 5 conferences, have said no to football this fall. The Pac-12 went even further, no sports until next January. The Mid-American Conference, Western Athletic Conference, other smaller conferences, UConn and UMass have canceled fall sports. In all 54 percent of the 130 FBS colleges will not play football this fall.

The Big Ten has two schools, Nebraska and Ohio State, stumbling and grumbling about putting together a football schedule outside their conference. It's all bluster and posturing, Nebraska and Ohio State won't play a single snap.

Presidents of Pac-12 colleges voted unanimously to cancel fall football after listening to a doctor – not a politician or football coach – explain how COVID-19 may have long-term consequences to players' hearts. That was enough for the Pac-12 to say they'll consider some sort of football schedule next spring.

If colleges say their campus isn't safe for in-person instruction, how can they say it's OK to play football? After all, the players supposedly are student-athletes, and part of the college experience is getting an education in classrooms, mingling with non-sporty, regular ol' students.

Of course college players want to play, and college towns will lose billions of dollars across the country if football is postponed. Their misery will have company. They can cry on the shoulders of 20 million Americans who've lost their jobs to the COVID-19 crisis.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the Director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said: "Unless players are essentially in a bubble, insulated from the community and they tested nearly every day, it would be very hard to see how football is able to be played this fall."

The NBA is operating under an airtight bubble in Orlando without fans. It's working. Baseball, however, is not in a bubble, and players are testing positive. Games are being postponed so often that teams may not play the same number of games during its coronavirus-abbreviated season. Records and championships won't be taken seriously.

College players are not professional athletes. If football is played this season, on top of career-ending football injuries, players will risk possible long-term medical issues. It's just not worth the gamble. If the SEC, ACC and Big 12 play, while the Big Ten and Pac-12 sit, the championship game will have the biggest asterisk in sports history.

Colleges will not be able to ask players to sign a waiver, releasing the schools from coronavirus-related issues. Colleges already are reporting numbers of players bringing the virus to campus. No sport is more susceptible to spreading the virus than football, with crowded training facilities and physical contact on the field.

The fact is, America has 4 percent of the world's population and 20 percent of COVID-19 deaths. This virus is contagious and dangerous. While young people, say college age, may not exhibit symptoms, doctors say they can spread the virus just the same as older people.

If colleges keep football players on campus for practice and games, while other students are told to stay home and take classes online, the NCAA can no longer pose players as student-athletes.

America is such a hot spot for the virus that most countries are not accepting tourists from America. Even at home, some states have roadblocks keeping out visitors from other states.

The world will survive without one season of college football, while we safely wait for a COVID-19 vaccine. There's just too much at stake now.

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The media has mixed feelings about the James Harden trade. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

James Harden was 100-percent exactly right earlier this week when he said the Houston Rockets were "just not good enough."

How could they be? Not when their moody superstar scorer, who makes about half a million dollars per game, shows up chubby, looking like a kielbasa about to explode in the microwave. Hey, some people eat when they're unhappy, it's a defense mechanism. In Harden's case, the only defense he's exhibited this season. At least he had a good excuse for missing pre-season training camp and alienating his teammates - he was busy partying with Cinnamon and Cherish in Atlanta and Vegas without a mask. Worst of all, he went into the tank his last four games in a Rockets uniform, standing around, arms folded, scoring fewer than 20 points each time, all Rockets losses. Fans in the front row were asking him to move, he was blocking their view of players who cared about winning. James Harden sabotaged his own team, a team that offered him $50 million a year to stay. Something that crazy could only happen in professional sports these days.

There's a saying that drives the American labor movement: "a fair day's wage for a fair day's work." It's the motto of the American Federation of Labor. The National Basketball Players Association is not a member. Harden's sulking on the court, cheating the Rockets and their fans, was unforgivable.

Harden, sitting out games while somehow being on the court, forced the Rockets to trade him - and quick - to Brooklyn. The trade, when you ignore the fine print and unindicted co-conspirators Cleveland and Indiana, sent Harden to Brooklyn in exchange for Caris LeVert (immediately flipped for Victor Oladipo), Jarrett Allen, three first-round draft picks and four swapped first-rounders. It's true, when you trade a superstar, you never get back equal value. The other team wins.

If it makes Rockets fans feel any better, the media in New York already has problems with their new problem child. I should say newest problem child. Kyrie Irving plays for the Nets.

"They (the Nets) gave up everybody! There's nothing left now. I just want to cry, It's awful," weeped WFAN Radio talk host Evan Roberts. For those who don't subscribe to weekly Arbitron ratings reports, WFAN is the most powerful, top-rated sports talk station in the Apple.

"You're leading down the road of doom. Harden and Durant could be gone in a year and a half. I'm not convinced this gives them a better chance to win a title. I'm living a nightmare again. They better freaking win."

Circle March 3 on your Rockets schedule. That's when the Brooklyn Nets, with their Big 3 of Kevin Durant, James Harden and possibly Kyrie Irving visit Toyota Center. I hear talk radio salivating over the record jeers that will cascade over Harden's name, although I'm not buying it. Fans don't think like the media does. I'm thinking that Rockets fans will welcome Harden back - one night only - with cheers.

Toyota Center public address announcer Matt Thomas: "Usually when former Rockets come to town for the first time since leaving, I give them a positive introduction. It's up to the fans how to react."

James Harden spent eight seasons with the Rockets. He is a spectacular player who watched other NBA players engineer trades so they could compete for a title. Harden didn't think the Rockets were good enough, and he's right. So he wanted out. We've all been there, a job we didn't like for a company we didn't like, for a boss we didn't respect. Harden wanting to be traded is understandable. How he went about it was deplorable. He hurt his co-workers.

Houston will make Harden pay for his disrespectful departure. He has an upscale restaurant set to open here. The name of the steakhouse will be "13." Harden's business partners may want to change that number ... before the restaurant's telephone number is disconnected. There are plenty of other restaurants in Houston. Rich people who can afford steakhouse prices hold grudges.

Rockets fans searching for a silver lining say, "We got two decent players and a whole bunch of precious first-round picks" for a malcontent who would rather be anywhere (except maybe Sacramento) than Houston." Yes, a bunch of first-round picks does bode well for the future. Anywhere, except maybe Houston.

Houston's draft war room isn't the most successful operation in the NBA. Over the past decade prior to 2000, under the direction of general manager Daryl Morey, the Rockets made 16 draft picks. Not one of them is still in a Rockets uniform, many of them have sought employment outside of America, some outside of basketball. Among their first-round whiffs: Nikola Mirotic, Terrence Jones, Sam Dekker - all out of the league. Best of all, Royce White, who played three whole games in his NBA career and finished with a scoring average of 0.00 points per game.

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