College football is making a comeback, despite COVID-19. Did Trump bring it about?
The notion was preposterous, I thought.
I’m not talking about another poll result showing Democrat nominee Joe Biden maintaining or even growing a lead nationally or in a battleground state. And it didn’t have anything to do with Grampa Joe’s outlandish insistence that Trump is a “climate arsonist” or that more suburbs (?) would be burned, flooded or blown away if he and his merry band of leftist thought and government controllers come up short in November. (As a side note, wasn’t it strange that Joe only mentioned suburbs being ruined? How about the inner cities being wrecked due to human causation, Mr. Dem nominee?)
No, it was a suggestion that the return of Big Ten football might help President Donald Trump win the election. Last week, Fox News host Martha MacCallum interviewed former Notre Dame (and South Carolina, etc.) head football coach Lou Holtz about the largely midwestern conference’s reversal of its decision to forego a 2020 season due to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP, or Wuhan, if you prefer) virus and the potentially disastrous health impacts on players, fans, administrators and fellow students if the big and fast guys were permitted to hit the gridiron as promised.
To refresh your memory, the Big Ten’s powers-that-be announced last month that the conference wouldn’t play this season and would perhaps look to postpone the games until springtime when there supposedly would be less chance of being afflicted with the virus. Other major college leagues followed suit, though several, including the imminently powerful Southeastern Conference (SEC) and Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) indicated they would play on with modified game slates and lots and lots of precautionary measures.
In other words, the complete cancellation singled out the Big Ten as being overly cautious and reactionary for hastily scuttling their big-time popular moneymaker. All along, President Trump advocated for playing the season, reasoning it could be done safely. Last week, the Big Ten poohbahs changed course, which many hinted was a political “win” for the president as well as the schools themselves. Jason King wrote at Outkick, “Almost certainly, Wednesday’s development will impact Trump’s approval rating in the Midwest. The Big Ten includes Wisconsin, Michigan and Iowa, three states that Trump narrowly won in the 2016 election.
“Now, during one of the darkest times in recent American history, he’s helped bring back excitement and energy to those states when they needed it most.
“Maybe Trump’s phone call to [Big Ten commissioner Kevin] Warren played no role in the reversal. His critics can make that argument. But what about the empathy he showed frustrated Big Ten parents and athletes? Trump’s public involvement in the Big Ten negotiations surely inspired Ohio State parents and Nebraska athletes to keep fighting the Big Ten school presidents.”
Yes, Nebraska will be safely in the Trump column on Nov. 3, and Ohio likely will be too. Trump won the Buckeye State by eight points in 2016, and the ultimate swing state’s not even being mentioned as a possible Biden pickup this year. Media pundits get all excited whenever there’s a Biden-friendly survey coming out of Florida, North Carolina and/or the midwestern states of Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, because they’re all places where Trump surprised people. Maybe not North Carolina and Florida as much as the others, since they weren’t formerly considered solid bricks in the blue wall.
But King’s argument largely echoed Holtz’s response on Fox News last Wednesday. For as much criticism as Trump’s endured from the antagonistic establishment media, here’s one instance where his “rhetoric” brought a good result -- and he’s even getting a little reluctant praise for it. To have some in the reporting class acknowledge his influence is very encouraging -- and welcome. The president wasn’t just pushing the schools to bring back football for his own sake, either -- he recognizes how important playing the game is to millions of Americans all across the country.
Fall is synonymous with college football. The upcoming games represent another bit of “normalcy” returns when the ball is teed up even if there aren’t tens of thousands of screaming fans in the bleachers and marching bands blaring the fight songs. And there are still the “social justice” issues with players protesting, but we’ll deal with that another day.
The action also perhaps reveals something more important in the political sense. By having the Big Ten reverse course so relatively quickly, it shows that attitudes on the CCP virus might be changing after six months of lockdowns and establishment fostered panic. With the NBA winding down its playoffs inside its formulated “bubble” in Florida, the abbreviated Major League Baseball regular calendar also coming to a close without hindrance and the NFL just launching its season a week and a half ago, people are noticing that there haven’t been reports of major outbreaks in quite a while.
Could it be that testing is more accurate now and leagues are forced to deal with the reality that the danger from the virus was just a tad (or very) overblown? The football huddles aren’t comprised of senior citizens from a care facility and the sick have already been given permission to opt out of anything having to do with the virus. Colleges have reinstated in-person classes (they’d better, or what use are they?) and the evening news has largely shifted to covering the presidential candidates and the non-stop back-and-forth of campaigning. The death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg last week and the Supreme Court fight add another element.
Where’d the virus go? Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, Kamala Harris, all Democrats and the media would have everyone thinking the invisible Chinese killer is everywhere still and as dangerous as it was back in March and April. But even if this were true, which it’s not, where are all the people being levelled by it? Blue state governors and mayors would have their residents confess that continued lockdowns and mask mandates have slowed the progress of the dang thing, but is it real?
In most states, businesses have reopened and life has returned to relative routine. Here in the touristy Williamsburg, Virginia, students now roam the Williams & Mary campus again and the colonial city is open and receiving visitors. Hotels and motels are operating with a percentage of normal clientele but at least there are many more signs of life than there were months ago.
Is King right, will college football help Trump win in the Big Ten states?
The Big Ten’s decision to re-up on football was financially, not politically, driven
It's a nice thought to claim President Trump’s say-so helped move the Big Ten’s administrators to give in to common sense and sound logic. But here’s thinking it likely was a financially forced reality that resulted in a reversal just weeks after they’d decided to hang up the cleats for the season. This isn’t downplaying Trump’s cheerleading in the slightest. As the possessor and user of the world’s largest bully pulpit, anytime Trump says or tweets something it draws coverage.
There probably were a number of factors leading to football being reinstated. First and foremost, as noted in the previous section, the virus is being downgraded as a major threat to people in the college age group. I don’t have the exact numbers, but only a comparative handful of young folks have perished from COVID-19 worldwide. The virus is quite dangerous to the threatened categories, but college kids aren’t in one of them (neither are young kids, but the teachers unions hold more sway where they’re concerned).
Two, the survival of college sports depends on bringing in football dollars. It's a poorly kept secret that the so-called “revenue” sports -- football and men’s basketball -- provide seed money for all the other sports. Of course, just like in politics, there are major donors and boosters, but the entire system is heavily dependent on making some money in their endeavors. If the teams aren’t playing, they’re not on TV and fans aren’t in the stadiums (which it looks like they won’t be anyway). The accounts receivable half of the ledger is pretty darn empty.
Meanwhile, sports-related expenses don’t cease. College scholarships require funding. Athletes have housing costs, food costs, training costs, etc. Coaches are still receiving their salaries. Facilities need to be maintained. Big sponsors are probably still chipping in their share, but there’s no way schools can sustain the deficit for long. What are they, the federal government? Can’t the federal reserve just print them some cash?
Third, the season has already started for those conferences that decided to keep going and… no catastrophe ensued. I’m not watching a lot of sports these days, for a variety of reasons -- most of them “protest” related -- but I did catch a handful of plays from the games that are going on. It looked like, well, college football. It was weird having piped in crowd noise and cardboard cutouts in the stands, but other than that, the atmosphere felt “normal.”
Couldn’t the Big Ten just as readily bring in their teams, pay the officials and kick the ball around just like the schools that didn’t quit before they even tried? As soon as the conference overseers saw Chicago-area-based Notre Dame playing, they must’ve thought, ‘If they can do it, why can’t we?’
Lastly, time is short for these schools and football programs. The best players are only obligated to stay three years (there are four years of eligibility on scholarships and a fifth “redshirt” year if the guy needs additional time to mature and succeed). Therefore, a good many kids would’ve played their final games last year if the Big Ten didn’t have a season. There goes all the time and effort invested into those players, and, as I said, they’re the best ones on the field. They’ll go pro without a second thought.
Again, it was a financial call. If the schools’ on-field winning percentage was threatened, so would be their future bottom line. Big Ten members weren’t about to surrender their economic wellbeing to something as flighty and unprovable as the CCP virus. If players do test positive, they’ll be held out, just like in other parts of society. And they should stay away from older folks and sick people even if they feel fine. It’s really not that hard to fathom.
Now we’ll see if the Pac 12 follows the Big Ten’s example. Some athletes are already trying to get the “let’s play” movement rolling. Time will tell.
We’re starting to see big cracks in the BLM protests/“social justice” foundation
It didn’t receive nearly as much media coverage as the kneeling/arms locking “protests,” but a couple brave NFL players fought back against the enforced conformity of the politically correct thought-controllers. Brooke Pryor reported at ESPN.com, “Steelers captain Maurkice Pouncey … announced his intention to make his own choice about what name to put on the back of his helmet, becoming the second player to break from the team's decision to wear the name of police shooting victim Antwon Rose Jr. on helmets for the 2020 season.
“’I was given limited information on the situation regarding Antwon, and I was unaware of the whole story surrounding his death and what transpired during the trial following the tragedy,’ Pouncey, a vocal advocate for the police communities in Pittsburgh and in his Florida hometown, wrote in an Instagram post. ‘I should have done more research to fully understand what occurred in its entirety.
“’... Make no mistake, I am against racism and I believe the best thing I can do is to continue helping repair relationships between the police and their communities.’”
I almost couldn’t believe it when I saw it, an athlete speaking common sense. Pouncey is a bad dude, so it’d doubtful anyone’s likely to intimidate him into doing something he doesn’t believe in. Ditto for Steelers tackle Al Villanueva, a former Army ranger who similarly donned a different name on the back of his helmet to buck the Black Lives Matter trend.
Villanueva made headlines in the past when he refused to stay in the locker room during the playing of the national anthem, standing on the field by himself to show his patriotism. There are two sides to every story -- and not everyone considers Rodney King, George Floyd and Jacob Blake as heroes because of circumstances that the justice system should sort out.
The actions of the Big Ten Conference and a couple NFL players aren’t likely to figure prominently in this year’s election, though the happenings of the past few weeks indicates there may be some easing of the panic surrounding the CCP virus. If this is the case, Democrats will have to run on the issues… a place where they can’t hope to compete.
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