We ran another Twitter poll Tuesday asking our followers if the Pac-12 made the right decision postponing all sports until January 2021.
The results were basically 50/50, with “no” having a slight lead.
Here’s what our staff members think.
Kim Doss: I have no problem with the postponing of fall sports. I think there are too many unknowns, too many concerns about testing turnaround, too many cases to do the amount of traveling necessary right now. That’s especially true in women’s sports where they almost always fly commercial.
Last year, Arizona Volleyball had exactly one charter flight—on the Oregon trip when football was also up in that state. They sometimes stayed overnight in Phoenix to fly out early in the morning because it was cheaper. How do you do that with so many unknowns?
I am less certain about the decision to call off the beginning of the basketball season at this point. I think we have too much time to see how things go. The state of Arizona is already saying that Pima County is very close to being able to open further. Maricopa County is a different story, but it’s a sign that things might be easing in Arizona. Last week, California released rules that would allow teams to start training there, as well. I just don’t know that there will be a huge difference between December and January, so I’m not sure it matters.
I don’t think this decision had to be made so soon. I know Larry Scott talked about providing “clarity” to the student-athletes, but they still don’t have it. They have no idea when or if they will play.
Brian J. Pedersen: Yes and no.
I completely agree with the move to postpone fall sports, with the hope of having some sort of season early in 2021. This gives the Pac-12 several months to figure out a way to make that happen, rather than pushing things back a little bit at a time. If you don’t things are going to be good a month from now, they’re not going to suddenly get better in 30 days.
However, pushing “winter” sports back—basically basketball—to Jan. 1 is a different story. By doing this now the league is essentially putting a hard deadline on itself to figure things out by then or, like with football and its many pushbacks, it’s going to look even worse.
Also, if the ACC, Big 12 and SEC are somehow able to make fall sports work without any significant interruption, then start basketball on time in November, then the Pac-12 will only add to its horrible reputation.
While I think it’s very likely basketball wouldn’t be ready to go at the normal start, making that decision so soon seems premature.
Adam Green: Sort of.
Even when the Pac-12 released its conference-only schedule I imagine most of us never really believed it would happen. That they were already hedging on Week 1 kind of gave away the fact that the conference had doubts, too.
Delaying the potential beginnings of seasons was the right move. Football gets a lot of the publicity in large part because it would be the first to play, and it is unlikely things will be truly safe a little more than one month from now.
Where the Pac-12 could get into trouble is in the blanket decision and arbitrary start date. What’s different about January 1, 2021, compared to December 31, 2020, when it comes to a pandemic?
Hopefully as time moves on we will see the emergence of effective vaccines and treatments, both of which would minimize the risk surrounding Covid-19. The further out things can be pushed, the more likely those are to be around when seasons start up again.
But while football needed to be postponed, other sports still had the luxury of not only time, but perhaps being safer to play given the circumstances. Did the conference really need to delay every fall sport? Was setting a Jan. 1 deadline truly necessary?
I’m not sure. Then again, I am not a doctor or any kind of scientist.
Given that, I understand why the Pac-12 made the decision and I will never fault the conference for being overtly cautious. But this may have been a situation where a scalpel would have been a better tool than a sledgehammer.
Ryan Kelapire: No, it was not the right decision. But hear me out.
The Pac-12 certainly made the correct call to postpone football since the idea of keeping 100 players and dozens of coaches and staffers healthy never seemed realistic, even with all the money involved. When you have that many people, some are bound to get exposed to the virus.
But I don’t agree with the Pac-12 making decisions as if all fall sports present the same risks. Football is conducive for an outbreak since players are literally colliding and breathing on each other every single play.
Volleyball is much different. It’s not a contact sport. The only time opponents are in close quarters is at the net. That’s not a huge deal if the players wear masks.
Even some high schools are playing volleyball this fall, and I think the Pac-12, with so many more resources, could successfully pull it off.
Why is it so important to play volleyball in the fall? For one thing, it alleviates some of the facility issues Arizona (and many, many other schools) could run into in the spring if it has to host volleyball, gymnastics and men’s and women’s basketball events in the same semester. (Other schools will have to accommodate sports like wrestling too.)
Playing in the fall would have also given volleyball a tremendous opportunity to pick up interest it wouldn’t otherwise get. Now it will be competing with all the spring sports for coverage.
I think soccer would have had a good shot of having a successful fall season too since it’s an outdoor sport, but it is a contact sport, so I can’t disagree too much with the decision to postpone it.
As far as basketball goes, I think the Pac-12 made a decision too quickly. The first day of practice isn’t usually until September anyways. A lot can change by then. Testing could improve, potentially allowing teams to get faster and more accurate results. And, who knows, maybe the U.S. will start to get a handle on the virus by then.
While I don’t think this will be the case, it’s going to be a really bad look for the league if other major conferences are playing basketball in November and December. The Pac-12 is already too far behind the rest of the Power 5 as it is.