Sports

Enjoying a little normal football in these abnormal times

Ogden column: Is it wrong to want something even a little normal?

Cedar Rapids Xavier takes the field under a flag at half staff for 9/11 before Friday night's win over Clear Creek-Amana
Cedar Rapids Xavier takes the field under a flag at half staff for 9/11 before Friday night’s win over Clear Creek-Amana. The Saints are 3-0 and that, too, feels normal. (Justin Torner/Freelance)

It’s feeling a little normal.

And in a year that will be unforgettable in that we all want to forget it, a little normal is saying something.

For the third Friday night in a row, there was high school football. Although several teams were sidelined by either by COVID-19 (Kennedy and Linn-Mar) or lack of in-person class time (Iowa City West, City High and Liberty), the majority of games went off as normal.

Cedar Rapids Washington and Xavier, Mount Vernon, Lisbon, Springville, Williamsburg, Decorah, Washington (Iowa), Sigourney-Keota, South Winneshiek, Ed-Co and English Valleys all have made it through the first three weeks without a loss — of any kind.

Friday night felt a little normal.

Then, I woke up Saturday and, after getting through my morning routine, I turned on the TV to watch college football. It was not a good day for Iowa State (or Kansas State) on the field, but it was a good day for the college game. It was back, albeit a shell of what it was a year ago.

And it felt a little normal.

As I was writing this, I was eagerly anticipating the return of the NFL, specifically looking forward to seeing if Mitch Trubisky has improved enough to lead the Chicago Bears to bigger and better things in 2020. Or will this be another year of unfulfilled promises?

That less than start had me shaking my head, but the finish put a smile on my face.

A Chicago Bears roller coaster ride definitely feels a little normal.

Is that wrong? Should I feel guilty wanting a little normal, wanting things back to where they were a year ago?

I’m a firm believer in taking all necessary precautions when it comes to the coronavirus — social distancing, wearing masks and eliminating many of those gatherings that would really make things normal.

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But I also lean toward the side of trying to get a little normal out of an abnormal situation. I’m not a fan of forcing it, mind you, but why not give normal a shot, as long as the necessary steps are being followed — by players, coaches and medical staffs.

That’s why my first thought while watching the Cyclones take on the Ragin’ Cajuns of Louisiana on Saturday was that the Big Ten pulled the plug too quickly. I firmly believe the Big Ten thought, once it canceled fall sports, others would fall in line. The conference always has had an inflated opinion of itself.

And before the Saturday was over, what did the Big Ten do? Apparently had a behind-closed-doors presentation from its medical advisory board on the new, quicker testing procedures. And another vote — and a possible fall season — is forthcoming.

Here’s what an Associated Press report noted in its “take-aways” from Saturday:

“The Big Ten has made a mess of its decision to postpone, not because it was necessarily the wrong decision. The conference leadership, including new Commissioner Kevin Warren, have failed to get all the stakeholders, from coaches to players to parents, on board. The conference totally lost control of its messaging and lacked the transparency needed to stand by its decision with conviction.

“The Big Ten has allowed itself to become a political football.”

Sounds like the Big Ten.

This attempt at football this fall — at all levels — still could fail. BYU — which beat Navy, 55-3, a week ago — is shutting down, postponing it’s game against Army, after “a small number of positive COVID-19 test results and the resulting tracing exposures within the BYU football program.”

Other programs at the high school and college levels are having — and will have — issues, too. The NFL will not make it through the season without some positive tests and some postponements.

This entire experiment could go bad.

But an attempt had to be made. If things can feel normal, even for a few weeks, that’s OK.

Comments: jr.ogden@thegazette.com

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