The coronavirus has not disappeared. The report by Gentry Estes of Gannett that appears in Sunday’s Tuscaloosa News emphasizes that. The week’s statistics from the City Of Tuscaloosa and the Alabama Department of Health say the same thing, at least to me. If you don’t believe what common sense would suggest, argue with those agencies.
There will still be college football, almost certainly. The mighty engine of commerce will see to that and perhaps, with a little less than three months to go, venues can be made safe enough. Will everything be back exactly like it was, restored to a pre-coronavirus status in three months? That doesn’t seem likely to me. It doesn’t seem likely to Texas Governor Greg Abbott (note: Abbott is not an anarchist). According to Saturday’s Houston Chronicle, Gov. Abbott indicated on a conference call with that state’s college athletics directors that stadiums in that state were unlikely to be at more than 50 percent capacity this fall. One assumes that will hold true for the Alabama season opener against USC in Dallas: no more than 50 percent in Texas Stadium and perhaps less.
Alabama Governor Kay Ivey has made no statement.
Reading the future is always difficult. It seems logical that increased use of face coverings might slow the rate of spread and that social distancing would help as well. That doesn’t mean that I am going to stand on a soapbox and berate the students going out nightly on The Strip or the family in Northport going out to dinner. It’s hard to tell them they should be more aware when Vice President Mike Pence was photographed on Friday at a crowded diner in Pennsylvania with no mask and no distancing in a crowd that seemed to be predominantly old men. How do you chastise anyone else for doing the same?
Also, full disclosure: I had my first restaurant sit-down meal since March 13 earlier this week. I wore a mask into and out of the restaurant. Our table was a good distance from the nearest patrons. I didn’t feel super-comfortable about it (the situation, that is, not the food or service) and I will probably not go out again for a few weeks but that’s my choice.
Even a 100 percent effort might not be enough to alter the potential for restrictions this season. Some say yes, some say no.
My guess, and it is only a guess, is that Alabama will also be at something like 50 percent capacity for its home games, with a facial covering being required. Most of the Southeastern Conference schools would like to see league-wide consistency but not all the state governments in the SEC region are the same. Basketball is much further in the future but also presents the challenge of an indoor venue and, even in November, restrictions might be possible.
Again, most people — myself included — want football back, with fans, at the soonest date that it can be done safely. There is still some time before logistical deadlines make decisions necessary. But those decisions will involve accommodating reality, not pretending certain realities that we do not like therefore do not exist.
Reach Cecil Hurt at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @cecilhurt