Carlson: Why Big Ten, Pac-12 postponements made the saddest of days
Tuesday evening, as the shock of the afternoon’s news started to settle in and the darkness of the future’s reality began to resonate, one emotion kept bubbling to the surface.
This was perhaps the saddest day in a string of sad days in the sports world. A global pandemic will cast a dark pall, and while sports has provided rays of light — professional soccer leagues restarted around the world, then baseball and basketball and hockey followed their lead — it was almost impossible to find any good Tuesday.
The Big Ten postponed football. The Pac-12 decided it wouldn’t play any sports until 2021. Even though the Big 12 decided not to take any action about fall sports and avoided a complete shutdown of college football for now, this was a rough day.
I know a lot of sports lovers are angry right now. You don’t have to look far to see people playing the blame game. Some athletes are calling out their schools and their teams for not doing enough while other athletes are making demands of their conferences to play. Coaches are calling out their conferences. Even folks in the sports media world have turned on each other.
Some of my brethren have said there are reporters who want this college football season to be canceled when in reality a canceled college football season puts all our jobs in jeopardy.
- Related to this story
- Article: Tramel: Why a temporary Big 12/Nebraska alliance could work
- Article: Reports: Big 12 to move forward with fall football
- Article: OSU and OU football: Loss of college football could be financially devastating for state athletic departments
- Article: Power 5 Conferences have the autonomy they desired
- Article: Tramel: Please, OU & OSU football fans, show some grace on ticket distribution
- Article: OU football schedule breakdown: Longhorns figure to be biggest challenge for Sooners in 2020
- Article: Tramel: Big 12 football status rises during the COVID-19 pandemic
- Article: OSU football: Spencer Sanders, Tim Rattay built relationship through pandemic
- Article: OSU football: Cowboys add transfer receiver Tay Martin from Washington State, but where does he fit in?
- Article: OKC Thunder: NBA rules Dennis Schroder fouled Eric Gordon on inbounds turnover
- Article: OSU football: As many as seven true freshmen could play for Cowboys
But as much as anything, it’s sad.
While everyone is bickering, I can’t help but think about all the people, all the human beings with brains and hearts and feelings who have taken a direct gut punch.
What about Owasso product Josh Proctor or Tulsa native Dax Hill? The defensive backs play in the Big Ten, Proctor at Ohio State, Hill at Michigan. Can you imagine what they must be going through right now?
Tuesday morning, they were preparing for a season.
Tuesday evening, they weren’t sure which way was up.
And those are just two players among thousands who suddenly find themselves without a season. Maybe they’ll get to play in the spring. Maybe not. Either way, this wasn’t what they envisioned these past few months as they figured out ways to stay in shape, made the most of their situations, then returned to campus with high hopes of playing.
I have long worried about the young adults in this scenario. Would it be safe for them to play during a pandemic? But now, the worry is compounded. What about depression? Anger? Sorrow?
Frankly, the same worry exists for the older adults in this equation. That includes coaches, sure, but they are just the tip of the college football iceberg. There are so many other folks who operate under the surface of the water, holding up college athletics and making their living through them.
There’s the support staff who do recruiting and fundraising and student life and academics and counseling and nutrition and so many other jobs. But there are others who are the lifeblood of game days. Ticket takers. Parking lot attendants. Security guards. Concession stand workers. Ushers. Janitors.
What about them?
Businesses in college towns will take a hit, too. Restaurants, bars and hotels depend on game days like big-box stores depend on Christmas shoppers. There will be closures. There will be layoffs.
The ripples just keep going.
And then, there are the societal implications of what happened Tuesday. We live in the greatest country in the world, and yet, the decision to push off a big chunk of the college football season is another sign we have failed to rally together to get this virus under control. We don’t care about our fellow man enough to wear a mask and keep our distance and do what needs to be done to get the case numbers down to make luxuries like football a reality.
We want football in Norman and Stillwater this fall? Heck, more than 164,000 Americans have already died, and if we add another 10,000 or so — a number we’re sadly sure to reach — that would equal the combined population of Norman and Stillwater.
Americans have given shared sacrifice the middle finger.
All of this makes me tired and sad.
A few months ago, I heard a wise man acknowledge these dark days and their difficulties. We get down. We lose hope. But in darkness, we also sleep and rejuvenate and dream. Great things can come from the darkness.
I believe that.
But the darkness is getting mighty depressing. I am ready to see the light again.
Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at 405-475-4125 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Like her at facebook.com/JenniCarlsonOK or follow her at twitter.com/jennicarlson_ok.