From the timeless comic strip, 'Calvin and Hobbes':
Calvinball has no rules; the players make up their own rules as they go along, making it so that no Calvinball game is like another.
Rules cannot be used twice (except for the rule that rules cannot be used twice), and any plays made in one game may not be made again in any future games. The game may involve wickets, mallets, volleyballs and additional sports-related equipment.
I am all for the college football season being played.
The only person more excited about the prospect of college football being played is my wife, who will be spending today enduring my angst as the Georgia Southern Eagles remain grounded, thanks to a COVID-19 spike among the ranks of the Florida Atlantic squad and the subsequent postponement of today's scheduled game.
I give a lot of credit to conferences and teams around the country. From the moment sports were called off in the spring, hundreds of staffs across the country have put in countless hours to try and figure out a way for college football to move forward, even as a nationwide pandemic rages on.
That struggle continues now that the season has officially gotten underway. And nothing is getting any easier anytime soon. The postponement of today's Georgia Southern game is one of over a dozen games to be canceled or postponed in the middle of game week – to say nothing of the more than 100 games already affected by midsummer plans by conferences to put off non-conference games or delay 2020 play entirely.
I respect the effort put in to try and play, and I hate it for all the athletes who are being pulled this way and that while simply trying to play the game they love, but it's all getting to be a bit too much.
The fact made very clear over the last couple of weeks is that even the best-laid plans and precautions for proceeding with some semblance of a normal season can be laid to waste in just a day's time, thanks to just a few instances of COVID-19 springing up within a single program.
The most concerning aspect is that the rules have been changing and the goalposts have been moved throughout the ordeal.
When players first started to return to campuses in the middle of the summer, it was easy to be militant about precautions and restrictions. Separating positive cases and their close acquaintances and even halting team activities for a week or two at a time was simple enough when the first games were still months away.
As traditional fall camps opened, there were still reports of positive tests, but fewer instances of team shutdowns as the vital weeks leading up to kickoff had rolled around. Georgia Southern fans can bear witness to the latest high-wire act of COVID-related responsiveness. The Eagles played without 33 players last week, with many of those absences related either to positive tests or contact tracing of those positive tests.
Early this week, word came from Boca Raton that there were a significant amount of positive tests reported within the FAU team and that practice was halted. Florida Atlantic said that it was conducting contract tracing to remove the threat of further virus spreading, yet returned to practice less than 24 hours after initially suspending operations. Following those actions, the next two days passed before the official call was made on Friday morning to postpone today's scheduled game.
This isn't meant to be an indictment of FAU, but rather a criticism with the process – or lack thereof – that has existed from school to school as programs try to keep their seasons intact.
There is continued talk of the 14-day quarantine that exists for those who test positive and those linked through contact tracing. But what is that standard for being close enough to someone to be roped into a quarantine? Roommates of GS players who tested positive were among last week's holdouts. There are rumors circulating that contact tracing eliminated an entire position group at FAU, leading to the decision to postpone.
But is that too strict of a standard? Is it not strict enough?
What if Florida Atlantic had played last week? There is a good chance that those who tested positive this week would have been positive during a game just a few days prior. Does that put a previous opponent into contact tracing territory? Does it only do so if those positive-testing players were in the game for a certain number of plays?
And then there is the matter of the very large disparity between schools in both the number of cases being reported and the transparency associated with that reporting. Call me cynical, but it seems a bit strange that some programs seemed very willing to admit to dozens of its players testing positive immediately after setting foot on campus, making it very easy to now claim that the worst is behind them and that they can now fully focus on the season.
There isn't a clear right or wrong answer as to how this should be handled. But that doesn't mean that the rules or protocol for dealing with this pandemic should be so fluid.
If what remains of the 2020 college football season is going to be successful, it shouldn't attempt to do so with each team having its own interpretation of what constitutes abiding by rules.
Although I will recommend that everyone abide by one stated rule of Calvinball...
2.1 – All players are required to wear Calvinball masks. No one questions the masks.