Christine Brennan, hyperbolic reporting, and Agendas are bad for football

Some background:
Christine Brennan is a sports columnist for USA Today, a commentator on ABC News, CNN, PBS NewsHour and NPR, and a best-selling author. Wikipedia

She calls out the Big 10 for reversing course to actually have a football season, her opinion piece in the USA today starts out " Opinion: Big Ten’s decision to play football signals darkest day in conference’s sports history" . This from a conference that arguably has some of the worst sex scandals in the history of sports reporting, Penn State, MSU, OSU, and Michigan. She goes further to complain that the Big 10 has become the SEC (in her mind, a bunch of dumb hicks I suppose), this type of elitist bullshit only further divides and does nothing to help heal a ravaged country.

She goes on:
“While much of the blame for the awful about-face goes to the university presidents who chose money and football over sanity and caution, new Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren also contributed greatly to this public relations nightmare.”

With safety protocols in place, can we not carry on with life and shouldn’t schools be worried about the economy and their bottom line? Do they not have a right to play football?

Have we as a people become so entrenched in ideology that we have lost our collective minds on what can and can’t be done, safely, in order to move forward from (or with) Covid-19?

Well, there are no fans in the stadiums (as far as I know), and participation is a voluntary thing. Also, professional football is carrying on in the same manner. If things get out of hand, they can always shut down.

I think she is being melodramatic.

Yes, too melodramatic. I think that improvements in testing have convinced the Big Ten that football can be played safely without packing stands. Sure, if it wasn’t for the money they wouldn’t have done so but football money, even if it’s just TV revenue, is a big deal and it would be irresponsible to forfeit that money if it is possible to play safely.

See, I would consider stuffing dozens and dozens of players, coaches, and support staff into a stadium during a pandemic to be the irresponsible course of action, not leaving some money on the table.

I saw a game this weekend and between all the people from both teams and all the extra games it takes to operate a stadium, there were hundreds of people on the sidelines. Literally hundreds. Yeah… good luck with that “better state of testing”, let’s hope the colleges are willing to spend some of that money helping care for all the new COVID victims they’ll create by doing this… hahaha haha, yeah right.

I agree that Christine is being melodramatic. But I also acknowledge that this is giant money grab, pure and simple.

But let’s be clear. These conferences (and their fans I’d argue) don’t give a rat fart about these young men and their health. And the “student athlete” label is beyond laughable,.

Her opinion is not at all hyperbolic. A lot of college athletes are at high risk of getting COVID, and the disease spreads so quickly that temperature checks may not catch it in time. IIRC, almost 1/3 of young COVID-19 patients have myocarditis, which is a potentially fatal inflammation of the heart muscle. So imagine coach puts his football team into an intense practice involving drills, knowing what we know about the “suck it up” and “play with pain” culture of football, and this is easily a tragedy in waiting. I would not be surprised if an NCAA football athlete - maybe more than one - simply drops dead in practice this season because of a sudden heart failure.

The NCAA doesn’t give a dried fleck of shit about the student athlete experience or about the student athletes as people; they are a billion dollar enterprise. This is about money, plain and simple. Some student athlete will either die, be permanently disabled, or have their once-promising athletic careers cut short because of irresponsibility and greed.

And now they could get Covid too.

No, they’re not. Each NFL team is essentially their own bubble. Every player and staff member is tested extremely regularly, and everyone has a financial interest in limiting their contact with anyone outside that bubble. Last week, the NFL took over 40,000 COVID tests, and there were 7 new positive results.

Meanwhile in college football, players aren’t being isolated - they still have to go to class, they still go back to their dorms, etc. There were games last week where half the team wasn’t suiting up for “unspecified medical reasons”.

Now, I don’t know what extra risk is going to be taken by playing a game when the greatest exposure threat is back in the dorms/dining halls. There certainly hasn’t been enough time/testing for us to find out - and it sounds like most schools aren’t super eager to share that information when they get it.

You realize of course that they aren’t just doing temperature checks, they are testing (rapid result) the people in the program 2 or more times a week. They also gave the athletes a free opt out clause that didn’t affect scholarships.

To me, it’s a win win. Football money at most schools provides for way way more than just the football program. Usually it covers ALL of the sports and some funding also goes to the university and the educational departments.

To me, it would have been irresponsible to NOT play, knowing what we know and how checks can be made.

All the football programs also know that if an outbreak occurs, football will come to a screeching halt.

It is this type of chicken little reporting (and people feeling this way about something that will need to be controlled, not stopped) is surprising.

Agree completely with your overall point and your overall attitude. If I was King the NCAA would be disbanded and it would be illegal for the universities to be paid anything by anyone for running a sports program. Amatuer means amatuer & student-athlete has the word student on the front for a reason.


But ref your quote above, the bit about money applies to the athletes as well.

The young men who’re playing NCAA football this year have been working towards an NFL career for over a decade already. They (their parents) have invested a lot of time, sweat, and money in getting the kid to this level. And they’re all hoping to get the NFL payoff. It’s always been true that only a small percentage get there, and a smaller percentage stay there. But they too will suffer a huge hit to their NFL saleability if they choose to sit out or are forced to sit out because their school (or all schools) sits out.

Everybody has an economic interest here. And unfortunately, when the number get big enough, in our society the economics override most other considerations.

Sad 

So, if they can live together and attend classes in person together, why can’t they play football together? I’m not understanding.

Perhaps because it has yet to be demonstrated that colleges can in fact have semi-normal on-campus life and on-campus socializing without massive infections, a few dead, and lots more permanently damaged students, etc.

Whatever that number is, adding football to the mix can’t possibly help. As between killing football or killing chemistry lectures to keep the infection rate lower, I know which one actually advances the agenda of higher education more. Do you (any you)?


The whole question about COVID in general for all of us is what number of dead, crippled, or severely ill people is tolerable battle damage in pursuit of normal everyday life? Clearly a bunch of Americans think 300K dead this year and maybe the same next year is "tolerable battle damage."

Money makes the whole world go round. We choose what chances and how much freedom and what to ban and what to ok, all the time based upon (hopefully) careful consideration and sometimes research.

Hyperbolic statements and people planting feet in ground with their fingers in their ears when research says other things are possible is flat out wrong.

The economics of the entire US need(s) to be taken into account when people are calling for continued shut downs. I don’t know if true but I read that something like 60% of closed businesses that shut down due to covid will not re-open. If true, THAT should be the shocking statistic in this.

We balance things daily, how much alcohol is ok, smoking, driving ages and testing, I mean the world is a constant balance of how much freedom vs how much safety. Why would this be any different?

Football programs all have Covid protocols given to them by their team of health professionals that they are following (Pro and College). Why would there be any discord about them starting?

Has it been demonstrated anywhere?

No, and it won’t until it is actually tried …

In theory, I am not 100% opposed to collegiate sports having a season; my real complaint with the NCAA, the conferences, and the individual programs themselves, is that I remain to be convinced that there is anything approaching an actual plan. We’ve seen the outbreaks on college campuses. We already have the head coach of a major division 1 football program (head coach of the national champions, actually) essentially saying most of his team has had it.

Either Orgeron is full of it and didn’t actually have an outbreak but is willing to lie about his contagion in a deliberate Trump-like attempt to play the risks down, or there really was an outbreak and the Tigers are an example of how there is no plan in place and the student athletes really are in danger. So which is it? And do you think Orgeron is a lone wolf or are there other coaches out there like him?

Yeah, that’s the shocking statistic in this; not the 200,000 dead (and possibly 200,000 more before the end of next year). Businesses can be rebuilt. Govts can mitigate economic damage if it chooses.

To paraphrase a wise man: the economy was made to serve man; not man to serve the economy.

Because they clearly cannot live together and attend classes together without massive amounts of positive COVID cases. Their lives are dramatically different than those led by players/staff in the NFL - so don’t equate the two.

How many people’s lives have been adversely affected by that 60%? Just some back of the paper calculations would put it in the tens of millions.
Dead? Maybe not but as I stated and has been ignored, we balance things all the time.
Yet here you are taking a hard line in the sand about something that will likely find a balance? How many would be too many, if 200,000 is too much, why aren’t we railing about smoking, or alcohol consumption, or obesity?

Governments don’t mitigate damage like this, or to be fair they mitigate it now at a price to be paid later. I won’t be paying for it, my kids and their kids will.

Could it possibly be because people get set in their mind set and are unwilling to be wrong or even taking the chance at being wrong?

The Big Ten was possibly wrong before, now with safety protocols in place, they are taking a chance that they can safely play football.

The NCAA is criminal, they always have been and they will eventually cease to exist. When collegiate players start getting paid for image and likeness (which has already started), the massive amounts of money the NCAA gets will have to then be shared.

Orgeron probably isn’t alone but these kids are people, some people will take it seriously and others won’t. We’ve seen it in baseball, basketball and I am sure we will see it in football as well. Some teams will play out the season, others will miss games and may not make the entire season.