Monday, December 27, 2021

Lots of Elephants in the room with BC's bowl cancellation

I am sure this will piss people off. Please read it all. And let me preface it all by saying: 1. I am fully vaccinated, as is the rest of my family. 2. I have nothing against Annapolis or Shreveport or East Carolina or anything else related to lower-tier bowls. 3. I have experienced plenty of cancellations in work, sports and life since 2020 and understand this will be more common than it ever was prior to 2020.

I feel for the BC players and their families. They missed Christmas with each other and one last chance to play for nothing. I am sure plenty of BC Football families lost money related to travel for nothing. All of this could have been prevented if we acknowledged the following: we need to end these nonsense bowls and we need to let the young, healthy and vaccinated live their lives with COVID.

The Current Bowl System needs to end
I love college football and I love having random bowl games and random matchups on as background noise during the holiday week. However, the whole enterprise is stupid and outdated. Even huge fanbases are not selling out their ticket allotment to prestigious bowls (see Ohio State at the Rose Bowl). Players on elite teams are skipping their games to avoid injury. There is no upside to anyone outside the playoffs. All the talk of reward for the players is hollow when tens of thousands are spent on travel to random undesirable destinations. The fabled "extra practices" are a tired fringe benefit that can't be measured and seem meaningless given the players are under some sort of development schedule year round. When the playoff expands, fans and players will care even less about bowls. 

The bowls are only around because of TV and greed from the people who do get paid (coaches and bowl admins). If ESPN wants to keep NIT level bowls after the expanded playoff, then let's get rid of these weird destination bowls and just have them host a series of inter-sectional matchups in cities with domes and/or good weather and hotel space to host game after game after game the week between Christmas and New Year's. In this example BC would play ECU in Orlando at noon on Dec 27, the next game would be in Atlanta at 3:30, the next in Vegas or Arizona or wherever. Fans who wanted could still travel, but the focus would be on the TV product and the convenience of travel to the site. And the players should get more than a gift package. Pay them the bonuses the coaches get or the money that goes to the host committees. These are just extra TV games. Let's stop pretending they are anything else.

These players should be able to play with COVID
The vaccine won't stop the spread. You can't get more compliant than BC football, yet we still had a significant outbreak. BC was not going to rock the boat -- especially over the Military Bowl -- but let's be honest, they could have played. The vast majority of positives were asymptomatic, young and in great physical shape. They were not going to harm themselves nor their opponents. Everyone knows that at this point. Should high-risk fans and family members comes to a game where there have been positive tests? Probably not, but let them make that decisions. Let the player who want to play, play. If we really cared about player safety we wouldn't even have football, because playing football is much more dangerous to these young men than COVID will be. 

What should BC do? 
It is against BC's nature to lead any risky change or take a stand that might bring controversy. So they will never be the school to lead the charge to end bowl games...but they should. We don't benefit from the bowls, so let's move to a system that benefits BC or at least gives us something productive and tangible to shoot for.

BC should lead the movement to let vaccinated college athletes play regardless as long as they feel healthy enough to play and want to play. (Our players suffered more from food poisoning in Cleveland Circle than this outbreak). The pandemic and the vaccine are politicized. The only way to work to deescalate and bring some pragmatism is for mid-size, mid-profile businesses and institutions like BC to bring some sense to the situation. How we treat young low-risk athletes would be a start. 

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