In a pandemic world, nothing remains sacred. As Karl Marx once said, “all that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned,” and it seems now that, despite Marx referencing the beast of industrialism as opposed to COVID-19, the shoe fits the virus’s uncanny ability to alter, postpone and outright cancel some of the world’s most beloved events, especially those of sports. With collegiate athletics, uncertainty now lurks at every corner, and a nation of fans watches to see how and if seasons will begin.
Golden Hurricane football fans themselves wait in anticipation to see if their most cherished season will survive long enough this year to allow them at least one game to satiate their thirst for football; yet, as previously mentioned, our brave cavalier Pestilence spares not even the smallest of Division I football programs. Before students were allowed to return to campus en masse, Tulsa had eight of its football players test positive for the virus, thus accelerating season cancelation anxieties. Fortunately, those eight cases comprise the grand total of all currently confirmed cases at the university, as of yet, and even the quarantined players feared to have suffered exposure returned to practice the second day of classes.
On the flip side, concerns about the existence of a football season cannot consist merely of the domestic handling of the virus. The first scheduled game for the Golden Hurricane football squad occurs Saturday, Sept. 12 against Oklahoma State University, who has more strongly felt the blows of the pandemic. Per the New York Times college tally (updated through Aug. 24), OSU has confirmed 38 cases. Concern for Tulsa players only heightens with the added fact that the game, barring a last minute move, will take place in Stillwater. The fate of the season opener will likely rely on the early outcomes of the two schools reopening their campuses.
Past that, Tulsa’s schedule wastes no time in pushing boundaries to see just how much of a season can happen. Two weeks after the opener, the team plans to head to Arkansas State for its first out-of-state game and to the University of Central Florida just one week later. Whereas the former has only reported seven cases thus far, the latter has reported a whopping 727 positive tests — not to mention that it resides in Florida, which, over the course of the summer, flirted with the lofty title of global epicenter for coronavirus. Additionally, with the rate nationally at which universities fumble their reopening plans and safety protocol, the odds of at least one of these two teams seeing a rise (perhaps even significantly so) appears almost certain.
While students everywhere love their college sports, and Tulsans especially keep a special place in their hearts for their football team, it becomes prudent to anticipate and prepare for the potential of a complete cancellation of games. The university and its football team have refused thus far to display any outward appearance of uncertainty, conversely trying to conduct themselves in a business-as-usual manner, but hidden behind press releases and university send:alls, there exists a small faction of skeptical spectators, figureheads and players (some of whom who have already elected not to participate this season). Even if at present the official plan consists of keeping the schedule until disaster forbids it, an abrupt end seems to dwell in the shadows, ready to rear its head and bite when least expected.