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SLATE: People keep preaching hope, but football’s in trouble

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Those people all have one thing in common.

Jordon Brown tries to practice good social distancing
Jordon Brown tries to practice good social distancing
Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports

Whether Kansas State will actually take the field this fall is very much still an open question.

Late last week in this space, wildcat00 relayed reports that the Big Ten had pulled the plug on its non-conference football schedule. The Pac 12 joined them a day later — as commissioner Larry Scott tested positive for COVID-19 — and the ACC is expected to follow suit early this week. The SEC is meeting today to make a plan, and Bob Bowlsby has said that we can probably expect an announcement from the Big 12 at about the same time the ACC makes a decision, for what that’s worth. Multiple other leagues up and down the competitive spectrum have also gone conference-only, and in some cases flat-out cancelled fall sports altogether.

That list includes the Ivy League and — as of this morning — the Patriot League in Division I, and in Division III the NESCAC (home of venerable liberal arts colleges such as Amherst, Williams, Wesleyan, Middlebury, and Bowdoin) and Centennial Conference (Swarthmore, Haverford, Bryn Mawr, and the primary home for Johns Hopkins) have both suspended all fall sports. Some well-known individual schools such as RPI, MIT, Smith, Washington & Lee, Carnegie Mellon, and Case Western Reserve, among others, have also bowed out of fall athletics.

All this is happening in an environment where schools are being forced to halt practices because the virus has vectored its way into the roster, where professional team efforts to restart their seasons are met with disaster after disaster, and where a cancerous subculture in our country is trying desperately to convince anyone who will listen that this is all an overblown hoax. Last week, Texas set a new daily record for COVID deaths three days in a row.

Fueling much of the discussion, of course, are athletic directors, university presidents, and college football columnists and television pundits. These people all have one thing in common: they have a vested financial interest in college football restarting. No football means no money. An actual cancellation of football, for the reporters and talking heads, means a loss of exposure and in some cases a likely furlough.

We’re not trying to tell you to ignore these people. They’re doing their best to either make decisions or report on those decisions, although they’re not spending enough effort on the question of whether it’s even ethical to push unpaid students who aren’t even truly getting the educational experience they’re being “paid” for onto the field for the sake of TV contracts.

But we’d caution you to beware of anyone who is screaming into the wind that college football should go on because the players are young and healthy and won’t be affected, or because this mess is overblown, or because it’s all politics. Better to just ignore those folks, but then that’s sort of been true since long before the pandemic hit.

As for today’s news: there isn’t any. Don’t miss the latest roster countdown and historical roster countdown updates from BracketCat and Coach833.