One can only imagine the frustration of having a football game scheduled in less than three weeks and little means at present to prepare for it.
That’s the situation that East Carolina coach Mike Houston, staff and Pirate players face with the suspension of team activities due to 10 positive tests for COVID-19 within the program last week.
One ECU official said Sunday there was hope of resuming activities this week, but the Pirate ship is in uncharted waters with the continuous possibility of a coronavirus storm on the horizon.
Athletic director Jon Gilbert and Houston have stated since the outset of preseason practice that the health and safety of student-athletes is the No. 1 priority. No argument there..
There’s a sizable number of athletes who want to play this fall. Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence contends that players would be safer in a campus setting, adhering to protocols, than they would be without supervision if they were sent home.
That being the case, the odds of ECU’s football team staying healthy for the 2020 season improved with in-person classes on campus being moved online.
The economy of Greenville will take a hit, but that means there will be less contact with other students for football players and less potential transmission of the virus that has essentially shut down college athletics since mid-March.
With the Big Ten and PAC-12 bowing out this fall, that enhances chances for the American Athletic Conference to have more national exposure. Then again, no one is for certain at this point what the college football season, much less the postseason, will look like.
UNC and N.C. State made a run at having classes on campus but there were mass gatherings of returning students and clusters of COVID-19 ensued. So those institutions are changing to the virtual route with the education process while planning to have football.
Some gatherings that exceeded the state mandates in Greenville after students came back to campus were followed by an upswing in coronavirus cases.
UNC is planning to restart football activities today after a suspension that started Wednesday.
ECU put football on pause Thursday. All athletic facilities are closed.
I was told this week by someone who had been through coronavirus that the flu was worse.
Then, at the other end of the spectrum, there’s Mac Hodges, ardent ECU supporter and mayor of Washington, NC. He was diagnosed in mid-July and passed away on Aug. 12. Hopefully, “Bear” will be watching from a special skybox if this season becomes a reality.
If there’s anything bigger than football in eastern North Carolina, it’s the shadow of this pandemic and all its implications.
We need to replace fear with faith.
The best thing we can do is to trust in the Lord, realize He is in control and take all the practical precautions that He gave us sense to do.
Like Don Mitchell, pastor at Jarvis Memorial Methodist in Greenville, said some weeks ago, “Social distancing doesn’t mean we can’t get closer to the Lord.”
And, like Houston tells his players, “Helmet off, mask on.”