SAN ANTONIO — There was never gonna be universal conformity between how professional and amateur sports would unfold this year. But then again, there hasn't exactly been consistency with anything during the pandemic, either.
Let's look around San Antonio, for example. The UIL State Baseball and Softball Tournaments were canceled, but the Texas Collegiate Baseball League just played a 30-game regular season, with half of those at Wolff Stadium. The public address announcer would remind fans that masks were not required while seated, but mandatory if walking around the stadium.
It appeared to me, from the handful of games that I attended, that those precautions were being followed. But families were also asked to sit six feet apart, and it didn't appear to me that was entirely happening.
But that is also something that is hard to police with the staff of a minor league baseball franchise, one that was forced to lay staff off because of the economic downturn spurned by the pandemic.
Class 5A and 6A high school football, meanwhile, is on hold until the second week of September, for practice. I don't have any problem understanding why major metro areas fall into their own virus category compared to smaller outlying communities. But couldn't you ask the question? If Northeast ISD athletic programs are following the same protocols as Class 1A through 4A, then what's the problem?
It logically comes down to densely populated areas like Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, Austin and many other cities compared to more rural communities. But again, if NISD Athletics, as another example, are following the same rules and guidelines as every other "country school," then why aren't they allowed to hold practice now? Is this where I tell you that no school is immune? If you've followed the news, you're aware that Navarro and Pleasanton ISDs are dealing with COVID outbreaks as we speak. And just to share what city coaches are thinking? One 6A head coach I spoke with on Monday is still not sure what will happen when September rolls around.
You might have thought all of college football would get on the same page? But you see the power of the NCAA by the fact that nothing even remotely close to that happened, but we digress. That's a conversation for another day.
The University of North Carolina and Notre Dame are now dealing with campus outbreaks. I find it amusing that Clemson had dozens of positive tests, but advocated for the season like nobody else. That's because they're the favorites to win the title, right? I've continued to hear the argument from coaches, and players, that life inside respective athletic programs is the safest place for players to be. And I think there might be something to that. Maybe that's the best way to protect players, including at Clemson.
But here is where inconsistency strikes again. College football players won't be living in an NBA-type bubble. Notice how many positive tests they've had since competition began in Orlando? Zero, I think? College football players are going to leave campus and go home, and do things that college kids do; you know, hang out with friends, in groups, go to parties, in even bigger groups. I'll be the first one to shut my mouth if every single athlete in the SEC, the ACC and the BIG 12 self-quarantines while they're away from the practice facility, and wears their mask every single moment they are out in public. That's a big ask for college kids, but hope I'm wrong. I hope they all do the right things.
Tough news earlier this month for the kids at Incarnate Word as the Southland Conference postponed fall sports, but Conference USA did not. So there's that for UTSA student athletes. Same city. Same campus logistics to deal with. The Roadrunners will play football, the Cardinals will not...at least until the new year, and that is a shaky expectation at the very best. Inconsistency, anyone?
My mind will ask me, "What does the Big 12, the SEC, the ACC and C-USA, for example, know that the Big Ten, the Pac-12 and many mid-major conferences do not? It may be as simple as where the localized hotspots are? I'm happy college football is giong to play, with some honest mixed feelings for their health, and mine.
Liability is an issue here, my friends, but obviously administration and athletic departments that plan to play are prepared to answer to that issue if and when it arises.
The inconsistency is there. But that's also part of living in a democracy. Not everyone is gonna do the same thing, hence nothing has been consistent. Good luck, NFL.
Welcome to football season! Whatever it inconsistently ends up being.