Can it be? No football in the fall?
Well, it looks like the coronavirus took another victim, although thankfully it wasn’t a person, but rather a thing. By now pretty much everyone who is a sports junkie knows that for the first time since 1888 there will be no Badgers football team taking the field.
I had my hopes up, especially in light of the fact that the Big Ten recently released conference schedules, and that multiple teams had little or no positive cases for multiple weeks.
It’s the players, especially the seniors, that I feel for the most. The amount of work and time and effort it takes to reach the ranks of and be called an NCAA D-1 athlete are immense. The odds are often stacked against them and each player is a success story.
There is talk about having spring football, but I am not sure what that will look like. I cannot imagine it being a full season in the traditional sense, with bowl games and conference championships. Football is hard enough on the body, let alone trying to have two seasons in one year, with only a two month break in between.
I am hoping they can do something for those players who want to play, find some way to give them an opportunity to showcase what they have and impress NFL scouts before the draft.
Wisconsin and the Big Ten and PAC-12 aren’t the only casualties to the coronavirus - all NCAA D-II and D-III teams cancelled their fall seasons as well. This means that all those young men I wrote about, kids like Blake Draper, Alex Holtz, Chase Sperl, Connor Jeske and Gavino Lopez will not be playing in the fall.
Football isn’t the only sport that is affected either. Volleyball, cross-country and soccer will also be sidelined for a year. The financial implications for small businesses and those like me, who make our living covering sports, was grim before the summer got here. It just got darker, and I am sure there are those who will be searching for jobs or filing for bankruptcy in the near future.
I feel terrible for all of them, and while I tend to be an optimist, I am also a realist. I know the fallout from COVID-19 will take years to recover from. But I also have the hope that by this time next year, 2020 will just be a bad dream, something that we can all shake our heads over and say ‘Thank God that’s done with.”
If nothing else, 2021 has nowhere to go but up, right?
I am keeping my fingers crossed that my student-athletes will be able to enjoy some type of season. I am hoping they will have a suc- cessful return to school and to classrooms. I am hoping for a lot of things. I know I won’t get all of them, but even if a few of them happen, I’ll be a happy man.
I have no cure for COVID, and I have no crystal ball to see the future. I have no Badgers players to cheer on for the football season, but hope springs eternal.
We all plant seeds and hope for a full harvest. Sometimes those hopes don’t blossom, but what a beautiful thing when the sun does shine and faith is rewarded.
M USINGS AND G RUMBLINGS
ROSS PATTERMANN REPORTER