We don’t know what we don’t know

My agent I.M. Slick, respecting the ongoing social-distancing guidelines dropped an email to me the other day instead of having the usual face-to-face visit. He said he has been getting a lot of questions about what the future holds for sports in light of COVID-19.

I told him that there’s a lot we don’t know.

However, being the aggravating, er, persistent agent he is, Slick wanted me to respond to some of the questions in my column. I reluctantly agreed.

Slick: When will professional and college athletics return to normal as we know it?

Joe: I don’t know.

Slick: Will the Summer Olympic Games be held as rescheduled next year?

Joe: I don’t know.

Slick: It sounds like some fans will be allowed to attend games in person yet this year but at significantly reduced capacities. How soon will fans be able to fill the stadiums to capacity again?

Joe: I don’t know.

Slick: It sounds like many high schools and colleges are postponing their fall sports season till next spring. But locally, how many football games and volleyball matches will Hillsboro High School and Tabor College play this fall?

Joe: I don’t know.

Slick: If a player tests positive for COVID-19 on any of our local teams, will the rest of the season be postponed?

Joe: I don’t know.

Slick: Are colleges overreacting to the pandemic or are they not taking the pandemic seriously enough?

Joe: I don’t know.

Slick: Will the Chiefs play all of their games this season?

Joe: I don’t know.

Slick: Fine. Let’s see how politicians are handling COVID-19. There’s some who think this is all political, and that depending on which party wins the presidential election, COVID-19 will disappear after November? Is that possible?

Joe: I don’t know.

Slick: Don’t you know anything?

Joe: Yep. At least the mudslinging political ads will thankfully come to an end after the election. Too bad we can’t take all the money spent on political ads and use it to help find a cure for COVID-19.

Slick: Major League Baseball teams are already selling tickets for the 2021 season. Will fans be in the seats when the season begins next April?

Joe: I don’t know.

Slick: Will our college and university teams have a basketball season this winter?

Joe: I don’t know.

Slick: Athletes at Division I colleges are increasingly raising red flags about their institutions failing to follow public health protocols to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, even as their football programs fight infection outbreaks. Do you blame them?

Joe: I don’t know.

Slick: On the other hand, some players and coaches are lobbying to go ahead with business as usual, arguing that the players would be in a healthier, safer environment in the team setting than they would be on their own. Do you agree?
Joe: I don’t know.

Slick: Many doubt the league officials, coaches and university administrators are putting the health and safety of athletes first as they map out plans for the remainder of the year.

In an article in “Inside Higher Ed,” Nick Schlereth, a recreation and sport management professor at Coastal Carolina University who studies cash flow in collegiate athletics, noted that UConn will save money by not playing football and that this is not the case for colleges that heavily rely on revenue generated by their football programs. He believes the motivation for pushing ahead with football programs is “100 percent” about revenue. Do you agree?

Joe: I don’t know.

Slick: Meanwhile, Big 10 schools could lose up to $1 billion in lost revenue by canceling football because of COVID-19. Is that a smart decision?

Joe: I don’t know.

Slick: That’s it. Do you know anything regarding COVID-19 and sports?

Joe: This much I know. Anyone who believes they know the answers really doesn’t know.

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