It’s time to blow the whistle on sporting events

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The high school football season was plagued by, well, a plague. Games were canceled; the playoffs were as much about passing COVID-19 protocols as blocking and tackling.

The college season has been just as bad. Florida State postponed games against Clemson and Virginia on the morning of kickoff. Clemson and Virginia had already made the trip to Tallahassee for the game, only to pack up and go home before putting on their shoulder pads.

Now the Seminoles’ game against Duke has been canceled by the Atlantic Coast Conference.

FSU clearly has lost control of containing and preventing the deadly virus.

“Contact tracing this morning determined that, with opt-outs and injuries, we had just 44 scholarship players for the game, with some position groups depleted almost entirely,” FSU Director of Athletics David Coburn said.

“We deeply regret that many Florida State and Virginia fans have already traveled to the game as well as Virginia’s team. We simply had no way of knowing we would not be playing until this morning. We made every effort to play, but we could not do so in a way that was safe for the players.”

It's time Florida State close its locker room. By taking one step back, maybe the once-proud program can finally move forward – next year.

The Florida Gators’ game against LSU was postponed by the coronavirus. The Miami Hurricanes will play at Duke this Saturday, but only after the ACC juggled the schedule after the game between Miami and Wake Forest was postponed.

FSU coach Mike Norvell, Florida coach Dan Mullen and Miami coach Manny Diaz have all tested positive for COVID-19 this year. So has Alabama coach Nick Saban, UCLA’s Chip Kelley, Arizona’s Kevin Sumlin and Kansas’ Les Miles.

Southern California, Arizona State and Washington State all are waiting until Saturday to see if they have enough players who’ve passed the test to compete.

Although the Pac-12 delayed the start of its season until Nov. 7, the league already has had nine cancelations in the first four weeks of its abbreviated season. The Big Ten has had six postponements; the Southeastern Conference has had 10.

The NFL season also is coming apart quicker than $3 watch.

The game between Pittsburgh and Baltimore was originally scheduled for Thanksgiving night. It was moved to Monday after more than a dozen Ravens players, including MVP quarterback Lamar Jackson, tested positive for the virus.

Monday’s game eventually was pushed back to Tuesday. And after two more people in the Baltimore organization tested positive on Tuesday, the NFL decided to play the game on Wednesday.

It’s clear some football programs either don’t have the ability or the resolve to control the disease. As cases mount, the NFL decided to take a tougher stance against violations of COVID-19 protocols. In fact, the NFL ordered all four quarterbacks with the Denver Broncos to be sidelines for last week’s game against New Orleans after former Florida QB Jeff Driskel tested positive. The league found photographs of all four quarterbacks in a meeting room, and none were wearing a mask.

Kendall Hilton, a wide receiver on the practice squad, wound up starting in a 31-3 loss.

We love our sports. Games have been a much-welcomed diversion to all the problems of the moment, including COVID-19, social unrest and a contentious election season that doesn’t seem to end.

But do we need sports this bad? Is it about entertainment or making money? It’s now as exhausting waiting for games to be canceled as it is monitoring the daily numbers of new infections and virus deaths.

I love sports. They play an important role in our society. But we’ve reached a point where controlling the virus, and eventually beating it, is more important than three hours of our time in front of the television every Sunday afternoon.

I can’t wait to see teams return to the field at full strength and virus-free. And I can’t wait to see filled grandstands and faces without masks.

Maybe next year.

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