It seems like only six months ago I went to Gainesville to watch Bruce Pearl and Auburn take on Florida at the O’Connell Center. The Tigers got blown out by the Gators, but that’s not important right now. I could have sworn I was also starting to get pretty excited about the upcoming Super Bowl between Kansas City and San Francisco.
Wait a minute, that was six months ago. Wow, remember way back in January when the world actually made some sort of sense. I feel like I’ve already been living in this altered COVID reality for years.
I have no doubt the medical community will eventually develop incredibly effective therapeutics and/or a successful vaccine. However, doctors and researchers don’t have miraculous power. What if the coronavirus infection and death rate is relatively the same from now until next July? What if it’s three years until we get a reliable vaccine? I dream about the day I won’t hear about COVID-19 ever again. Unfortunately, until that day human beings of all walks of life are being asked to make unfair and impossible decisions.
From the president of the United States to the 20-something- year-old working mother of a child in preschool and everybody in between, we are all being asked to calculate the balance of human life. It is undeniable this virus has taken the life of thousands of Americans and hospitalized thousands more. It’s also undeniable that shutting down the economy causes unemployment, which in turn, causes a catastrophic domino effect resulting in the demise of communities and families. It is an unfair and impossible choice.
Studies clearly indicate children learn better in a classroom environment and develop critical social skills in school. While they might be at little risk, they could unintentionally affect someone else. It is an impossible and unfair choice.
Auburn is scheduled to begin practice for the upcoming college football season on Friday. Football, we are told, is trivial compared to the preservation of human life. On its face, that seems logical and reasonable, but it’s not that simple. If there is no college football this fall that means no ticket sales and no proceeds from television. Those two revenue streams not only fund the football programs, but they fund the majority of the other 15 varsity sports at these schools.
Many of the Power Five schools could probably survive one lost season but would suffer financial disaster if the shutdown persisted. There are 130 FBS programs in Division I and they all offer 85 scholarships. That’s 11,050 scholarships that all of a sudden lose the majority of their funding.
If there is no FBS football, there will be no FCS football. There are 127 FCS schools and most of them offer 63 scholarships. That’s 10,795 scholarships that all of a sudden lose the majority of their funding. How many of those nearly 22,000 football players would get a college education without a football scholarship?
I haven’t even mentioned Division II, Division III and all the other sports. If there’s no football, there’s no basketball or baseball or softball or volleyball or track or tennis or anything else. We are all facing impossible and unfair choices.
Perhaps, we, as human beings, could set aside our differences for a minute and simply extend a little grace to each other.
Andy Graham is a weekly columnist for The Outlook.