By Larry Johnson
American sports generates news every day, but it often has a sort of manufactured quality.
Writers and reporters have to generate content for their employers, and sometimes it’s pretty superficial.
Not now, thanks to COVID-19.
Thursday was an example, and Friday may well be the same.
The uncertainty caused by the pandemic means that, like us, the managerial class in American sports really doesn’t have much idea what it’s doing.
Every day, more Major League Baseball players test positive for the coronavirus. Yesterday, more did.
Others have opted out of the already-shortened 60-game schedule. Some, including Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher David Price, have left a huge pile of cash on the table. He makes $31 million a year. Players can opt out, but can only collect this year’s salary if they can prove they’re at risk or would pose risk to a family member.
Stanford University dropped 11 of its 36 sports teams, in large part due to COVID-10. The school also dropped 20 staff positions. Most of them are minor sports like fencing and rowing, but those things mean something to somebody, or they wouldn’t have existed in the first place.
The WNBA has a different kind of problem. All 12 teams are playing their season at a single Orlando facility, where the players are also housed. Some players said their rooms were fine, but the Seattle Storm’s Alysha Clark and a bunch of other players complained about bedbugs and unsanitary conditions. Here’s a link to Clark speaking out on the issue on You Tube:
Next came the Big 10. Football teams there will play only other Big 10 teams in football, thereby eliminating a lot of intersectional and regional non-conference games. Those games include notable contests such as University of Washington-Michigan, Ohio State-Oregon, and Iowa-Iowa State. The cancellations have a ripple effect, as well. For example, the University of Northern Iowa will lose $650,000 because it won’t play at Iowa. UNI was already facing a $1 million shortfall.
The Ivy League, meanwhile, called off its entire football season.
Sports enthusiasts are left with questions. Will baseball start later this month and then stop because of COVID? Will there even be a college football season? A WNBA season?
There’s tendency to try to find someone to blame for some of this chaos. Sure, the virus is a big deal, the thinking goes. But if Blah Blah would have done blah blah blah first, it would have never blah blah blah. You fill in the blanks.
I think, though, that this situation is so unprecedented that except in the case of the WNBA above, we need to cut players, owners, and leagues some slack. Some of them may be rich, but they’re all only human. And we’ll probably all live if we don’t see, say, West Virginia play a football game against Maryland.