Ladies and Gentlemen, here’s Johnny Mathis … <applause>
“You ask how long I’ll love you, I’ll tell you true
Until the Twelfth of Never, I’ll still be loving you.”
Today must be the Twelfth of Never – even though the Julian calendar says it is the 13th of July – because today Danny Boy Snyder reneged on his promise to NEVER (in caps as he said it should be) change the name of his Washington football franchise. Reports this morning say the idea is to retain the team colors and that the new name has not been announced yet because trademark applications need to happen and be approved before a new name can be attached to the team.
You are going to read some pieces in the next several days about the persistence of activists who have been working toward this name change for the last 40 years or so. Smile when you read them; the writer will have made himself/herself feel good by writing that stuff and the subjects will feel as if it has all been worth the struggle. But that is not what happened…
- This name change came about because George Floyd died a horrible death in Minneapolis.
That’s it; that’s the reason. The protests and the social awareness changes that sprang from that event led a large number of big-money interests to take action related to racism in the US and it is the action(s) of those big-money interests that have changed the name of the Washington NFL franchise. Sorry not to begin this week with a feelgood moment; but that is the reality…
[Aside: Here in the DC area, I fully expect to read a letter to the editor sometime in the next week saying that the writer has been a Skins fan since they played in Griffith Stadium (the 1950s) and that this name change is like losing a family member. Preemptively, let me say that I hope you get over this “setback” more quickly than over the loss of a family member.]
Moving on … Usually, when athletes, coaches or celebrities speak out on social or political issues, my reaction is to hear what they have to say and then to ask for one of two things:
- The objective data/circumstances that support the position taken by the individual – and/or –
- The credentials of the individual to be authoritative on the subject.
Over the years, I have been criticized for those sorts of stances as being “too harsh” or “too narrow-minded”. I plead guilty to “too harsh”; I plead innocent to “too narrow-minded” on the basis that what I want to hear is more information from the declarer here which is the antithesis of being narrow-minded. Last week, I ran across a demonstration of why these criteria are useful ones – particularly the second one.
Lou Holtz – a generally likeable and affable former football coach – was a guest on a FOX news program called The Ingraham Angle. I cannot recall ever watching this program so I cannot provide much context for how the following sort of business came into being. Coach Holtz was strongly in favor of opening up sports and particularly college football; here is a sample of what he had to say:
“The way it is right now, they just don’t want to have sports and there’s no way in this world you can do anything in this world without a risk. People stormed Normandy … they knew there was going to be casualties, they knew there was going to be risk, but it was a way of life.”
Thomas Jefferson found a few things to be “self-evident”. I would hope that in 2020, it would be equally self-evident that the situations that required the storming of the beaches at Normandy on D-Day were fundamentally different from the situations we face today regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. I will point out only one fundamental difference here:
- By taking the risk of invading at Normandy, the men who fought and died there did so to kill off and remove permanently the world threat of Nazism and Adolf Hitler and his cronies.
- By taking the risk of throwing tens of thousands of people into close proximity to play and watch sporting events, the people involved will NOT kill off the coronavirus. What they will do with those actions is to make a lot more people sick.
As I said above, Lou Holtz is a nice and affable man. However, I am now fully convinced that I will never go to him for any information related in any way to public health policy and practices.
And speaking obliquely about college football in the Fall of 2020, several of the big-time conferences have announced that they will only play against conference opponents this year. The thinking behind this is that teams will play against other teams that are adhering to a common set of health and safety standards [theoretically] and such a schedule will minimize travel burdens for the teams [Be sure to ignore the 1200 mile trip from Nebraska to Rutgers and/or the 1250 mile trip from Boston College to Miami].
But there is another element of illogic at work here. If you believe that any/all of the Power-5 Conferences that hope to play football in the Fall will have efficient and effective measures in place to minimize the spread of the coronavirus, then interconference games between Power-5 teams ought to be OK. And in fact, there are more than a few “traditional rivalry games” that are interconference games that involve minimal travel:
- Clemson and the University of South Carolina are about 100 miles apart.
- Florida and Florida State are about 125 miles apart.
- Notre Dame and Michigan are about 125 miles apart.
- Pitt and West Virginia are about 50 miles apart.
If the various conferences can stage games “safely” among their member schools, why would those traditional games be any more dangerous?
I’ll hang up and listen for the answer…
Finally, sticking with the ideas of “football” and “things that are self-evident”, here is an observation by Bob Molinaro in the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot a couple of weeks ago:
“You don’t say: Johnny Manziel recently acknowledged that his football career is ‘in the past.’ This is not what we in the newspaper business would call a scoop.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………