Football faces a 4th and long

THE 49ERS may go all the way this year, but will there even be a football season thus fall? (Flickr/Alexander Jones).

Football has survived a lot of setbacks and obstacles over the years. Teddy Roosevelt threatened to outlaw it when it became too violent at the turn of the century. World War II stripped the NFL of many of its players and at least one of its teams and the growing fears about concussion injuries may eventually lead to tackle football either being re-invented or sued out of existence.

But so far, nothing has thrown the sport for such a big loss as the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

In California – and other states – football has been shoved into the spring for high schools and community colleges in the hope that the COVID-19 situation clears up dramatically by March.

At the university level, the Mid American Conference – a Division 1 bunch – has cancelled its fall 2020 football schedule, idling teams from Akron, Ball State, Ohio University and Bowling Green, along with eight others.

On Monday, USA Today reported that the governing board of the Big 10 Conference voted 12-2 recently to cancel its football season, as well, although the decision was not made public nor was it final. Since the Pac-12 is paired with the Big 10 for the Rose Bowl game, can it be assumed that the folks out here will pull the plug for fall football as well?

No died-in-the-wool pigskin fanatic will wring his or her hands over the Akron Zips skipping a season, but if the Big 10 and Pac-12 decide it’s a bad time for football, can other conferences be far behind?

Even with the fall cancellations, there has been some talk about simply moving it all to the spring, a la the preps and the JCs. Millionaires have tried for years to establish viable spring ball. Could the coronavirus be the influence that finally pulls off the trick? Stay tuned.

THE NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE, however, is still going full-steam ahead for a 2020 campaign. There are some potential roadblocks and adaptations. It’s very likely that – as with pro baseball, hockey and basketball – crowds of cheering fans will have to cheer in their living rooms or basement.

Perhaps the situation will improve enough at mid-season for some accommodations to be made at the turnstile. But don’t count on it. State governors and mayors under pressure to be extra-cautious about public health issues may still pull the plug on public gatherings.

However, in the spirit of hoping for the best, here are some predictions for the 2020, scoreboard-wise. Place your bets!

  • Super Bowl contenders: Baltimore Ravens, Kansas City Chiefs, New Orleans Saints, San Francisco 49ers.
  • Rams’ season: 11-5, tied with 49ers for first in the NFL West.
  • Chargers’ season: 8-8, third place in the AFL West.
  • Super Bowl champs: 49ers. Jimmy G. will have a career year. Even if, maybe, it’s a spring 2021 year.

Wild World of Sports is posted on Mondays.


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