A Hot Mess

20 May 2020 Views From The Booth

Winchester Printers

Greetings From The Booth!

With Memorial weekend on the horizon and all 50 states having eased shutdown restrictions in varying degrees, signs of hope and recovery are everywhere if we look closely. On the sports landscape, live sports returned this past weekend with the Heroes 400 Cup Series NASCAR race at Darlington.

In addition, some NFL teams have reopened their facilities (with restrictions), the Belmont Stakes will run in June–without fans, and
PBR (Professional Bull Riding, not the beer) has announced that they plan a live event with fans in July. I know bull riding is a stretch, but we look for hope in all possible places.

In my “What Sports I Watched This Week” segment, I did in fact watch portions of the NASCAR race on Sunday. I think, for the casual fan, it was a way to celebrate the return of a live sporting event. For the die-hard fan, it probably took a bit of getting used to. To me, the Heroes 400 looked more like a parade than a NASCAR race, and that may have been fitting in many respects.

With regard to a return to live sports, I think NASCAR got it right. There was lots of testing and health screening, there were no handshakes or hugging, temperatures were taken, crews were smaller, and a medical center was erected on-site at Darlington. All of these things probably will make up the template for other sports to return, if they can get past the other hurdles like state and local COVID-19 restrictions, and in the case of baseball, money.

NASCAR took the pulse of the American public, and sensed the need that with or without fans at it’s venues, we needed a return to live sporting events. The other major organizations would do well to follow.

Speaking of following and leading, it took my West Virginia Mountaineers to lead the way and publicly declare this week that they are playing college football in 2020. WVU President E. Gordon Gee went as far as saying he would suit up if need be. That may be hope disguised as a declaration, but it was good to hear someone, especially my Mounties, say that they were going to play.

College football is could be a hot mess this Fall. There is no “college football commissioner.” While it is a sanctioning body, the NCAA is not the “One Voice” that presides over college athletics. The various conferences and teams have the power, and in the case of the COVID-19 pandemic, states and localities, along with health and medical professionals, also factor in what college football will look like in 2020. And there’s the issue of whether or not students return to campus in the Fall.

Imagine a scenario where 8 schools in a conference have their students back and decide to play, with the blessing of their respective states and localities, and 2 teams decide not to play.
Factor in non-conference schedules, travel, coronavirus testing, and whether fans will be allowed in the stadiums, and there’s much to sort out before a kickoff takes place.

And there are a lot of cooks in the kitchen…

Until the next visit from the Booth…have a great Memorial weekend and GO HORNETS!


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