Dunlap: Be Ready For Covid Roster Madness

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Photo credit Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

This player has coronavirus.

That golfer was asymptomatic but has it.

This NBA guy doesn’t want to play.

That college football coach will coach --- but he is making his family stay in another home far, far away from where he will be.

I really am starting to wonder about all this. I have taken a moment for pause and wonder if we will still see team sports in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic that is ravaging the globe. I still can’t tell if this is the start of the second wave, the tail end of the first one, if the numbers in Allegheny County are good, bad or right about in line where the experts (are there experts in this?) thought they would be.

I guess most of all I’m confused about life and, to a smaller degree, sports.

All that said I’ve resigned myself --- even with the apprehension --- to believe that we will see team sports. I think we will see those hockey playoffs and that NBA bubble in Florida. I think we will see the baseball season get shaking in late-July and the NFL not miss a regular season game even as word comes down today that the all-important Hall of Fame Game is off.

Yeah, even with the trepidations, if you pinned me down and twisted my arm and made me answer, I do still think we will see team sports in 2020.

Know what though? We better get prepared to see them a lot differently.

It goes against the American sporting spirit of trying as hard as you can to not have them.

It would fly in the face of the good old college try. Man, some might even say that we would come across as quitters --- again, I’m starting to have my doubts but I think we will eek them out somehow.

I hope we can pull it off.

Here is where you come in: Don’t gripe, complain or grumble in protest when they are forced to look a whole lot different. Because, if they are going to work at all, they will look a whole lot different.

We, as consumers, must be ready to watch our games and root for our teams in a way that we never have in the past. We have to be ready and fully prepared for the roster to take a different shape in the blink of an eye.

Try this one on …

Imagine the circumstance of a high-end player (man, I don’t even want to say it, but …. gulp, gasp, um…. Sidney Crosby) testing positive for COVID-19 in between Game 2 and Game 3 of the opening round playoff series for the Penguins.

The way it looks now, the games will go on. The hockey will continue and the march to the Cup will endure. It will just be without those impacted who will be made to be sequestered away from everyone else.

It looks like sports have a plan to remove the “sick” and have those who test negative for COVID-19 keep plugging away.

That’s the part we need to get used to. Actually, forget about getting used to it, we need to prepare ourselves for this. It might not be Crosby or your favorite second baseman, quarterback or NBA shooting guard, but this will happen.

Abruptly and without any warning, one game you might be watching your favorite player look totally himself and the next day he might be mandated to be out of games for 10 days.

Or two weeks.

Or whatever the protocol calls for.

And all the while you are thinking to yourself, “I just saw him skate circles around people last night and he was marvelous.”

So that’s where all of this is. We will have front row seats to the theatre of the unexpected.

If you want sports back and 2020 --- and heck knows I do as much as you --- be prepared for things to be running smoothly with your favorite team one minute and someone be plucked from the roster the next.

Actually, don’t just be prepared for it, expect it. If we play the games, that is what the cost will be.