Bohnenkamp: Don't Worry About Football Yet

The Iowa marching band enters Kinnick Stadium before last season's game against Illinois. (Jeffrey Becker/USA Today Sports)

John Bohnenkamp

Kirk Ferentz should have been talking about spring football on Monday.

Instead, the Iowa coach was talking about the COVID-19 coronavirus.

His message was the same one everybody else has been giving, and it's the right one.

Stay home.

Given a choice, Ferentz would rather be planning for 15 spring practices instead of sitting at home during this national emergency like everyone else.

But he doesn't have that choice, nor do we.

So we all wait to see what happens next.

There is a lot of concern, though, about what comes next, because there are ominous signs.

Major League Baseball is making all sorts of contingency plans. The Indianapolis 500 has been moved to late August.

And, in the days since Ferentz's comments, the Tokyo 2020 Games have been postponed, and probably won't be held until next summer.

That wasn't a surprise. It was a decision that needed to be made sooner rather than later, because a.) putting together an Olympics is a worldwide logistical effort and b.) even in the summer, it's probably not going to be a good time to put the whole world together in one spot.

Naturally, with the cancellation of the Olympics, which would have ended close to the beginning of football season, the speculation began on the likelihood of no college football or NFL this fall.

The reality is right now we shouldn't even be worried about it.

It is important, at this time, to have positive thoughts while also planning on worst-case scenarios. It was unimaginable in early February that in March, all sports would be put on hold, but here we are.

Wait-and-see is tough to do in these times of social distancing. We want our "normal" back, but it isn't coming back soon and may not be back for a long while, if ever.

We would all like the distraction of spring football right now. We would like to be talking about Iowa's quarterback competition, or who will be on the defensive line, or what will happen at the middle linebacker spot.

Instead, we have a grim reality, a virus that we're trying to stop that is taking, and has taken, so many lives. That's the important discussion.

We have no idea what the next week will look like, or the next month, or the next several months. Our lives are day-to-day, but they always have been. Now, it just feels different.

It's scary.

There are coaches and athletic directors who are unsure that there will even be a football season, thinking there could be an abbreviated schedule or an outright cancellation. It seems extreme, but we are in a time of extremes. Still, that's a decision that doesn't have to be made now.

Who knows? We may be talking about a short practice schedule in June to make up for the spring. We may not be talking about anything until July, when the media days are scheduled to begin, or August, when practice begins.

Or we might not be talking about football at all.

We don't know, but it's not a decision that needs to be now. Our worries need to be about the present, not the late summer.

Maybe you haven't been listening. But listen to Ferentz.

And stay home. More than just a football season depends on it.

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