Friday, April 12, 2024

THE CHEAP SEATS with STEVE CAMERON: Even cousin Kathy knows college football this fall is a bad idea

| August 12, 2020 1:14 AM

NOTE: This is the first of two columns looking at the problems that seem certain to overwhelm college football this year.

Today, we follow a path — with some help — to one massive problem.

On Friday, we’ll look at the facts and figures that make it so, so difficult deciding what to do.

You probably haven’t met my cousin Kathy.

Well, not unless you’ve been in advanced marine biology studies at Texas A&M.

Actually, the name on her business card is Dr. Mary Wicksten — but like too many of us in the Gordon clan, she was saddled with one name for professional use, another for friends and family.

It’s a pain.

My folks did it to me, too, putting Jon Stephen Cameron on my birth certificate, then never once calling me Jon.

But back to today’s subject…

Cousin Kathy is, by many light-years, the star of our fairly large family.

I can’t pretend to understand everything she’s accomplished (besides teaching, and being a certified rescue diver), but I recall she was invited to China — to lecture some of that country’s most prominent scientists.

The accomplishment that continues to leave me most in awe, however, is that Kath has SEVERAL living sea creatures named after her, because…

She discovered them.

I THINK my favorites are Synalpheus wickstenae and Alpheus wickstenae, which — you’ll love this — are types of snapping shrimp.

Yeah, really!

Besides all the serious science going on under the sea here, you’ve gotta admit…

It’s pretty cool that there are gazillions of snapping shrimp around, all carrying my cuz’s name.

Like, for eternity.

OK, besides her obvious success in various fields of marine biology, Kathy has taken on other interests with gusto, as well.

For instance, she’s an accomplished equestrian.

People with the combination of intelligence, energy and curiosity often have a wide and surprising range of interests.

I’m sure that’s true with my cousin, but until this week I don’t believe I’d ever heard her mention sports.

Except, you know, in a question.

For instance: “Stephen, are you still writing about sports?”

Kathy has a rather deep voice that can sound a bit stern, even when she doesn’t mean to go there — so her inquiries always feel like they have a slight undercurrent, as though she’s asking: “Stephen, is there a reason you haven’t thought about serious journalism?”

Best I can remember, that would be Kathy’s entire interest in sports — other than her riding.

GIVEN so many years of history, it was a bit shocking when Kathy sent a message on Tuesday that, well…

Seemed to indicate that she was puzzled by the screwball situation that has engulfed college football.

Kathy and football?

Here’s a piece of that IM…

“Consider the football situation at TAMU (Texas A&M): Kyle Field holds 110,000 people, and right now, plans are to hold the seating to 51,000.”



Is that what some SEC schools are suggesting as an in-season goal?

More from Kathy…

“They’re giving preference to season-ticket holders and some students — but which ones? The Corps of Cadets? The band? The yell leaders?

“And what happens to all the rabid football fans who can’t get a seat?

“Then there are all the hotels, restaurants, beer joints and souvenir sellers who won’t make as much money.

“How do we control COVID outside the stadium?

“All of this happens after the fall semester opens, and TAMU will have more than 60,000 students on campus.”

Kathy would not make up or misunderstand something zipping around campus — like how many fans will be allowed into football games.

But even if that’s just a crazy rumor, one question she sent along remains just as critical if there are no spectators allowed into Kyle Field.

How WILL this huge university control the spread of the coronavirus across a sprawling campus?

THIS HAS been my point all along, as various schools and conferences have decided whether they will — or won’t — attempt to play a football season this fall.

I feel for all these people cheerleading for a regular schedule, and the usual excitement of college football — yep, I’m pretty sure they’re correct that workouts and games will be fairly safe in terms of keeping the virus at bay.

And then what?

On a campus with 60,000 students — plenty of whom are paying no attention to masks or distancing or any other precautions?

The Pac-12, Big Ten, Mountain West, MAC and a few individual schools either have cancelled fall sports — or with football (and its massive revenue), they’ve moved it, with a wing and a prayer, to spring.

Do you still wonder why I’ve said the NFL perhaps can pull off a season — but colleges cannot?

The Seahawks won’t have to leave CenturyLink Field and head to a campus rocking with frat parties.

And meanwhile…

Thanks for pointing in the right direction, Dr. Kathy.


Steve Cameron’s “Cheap Seats” columns appear in The Press on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. “Moments, Memories and Madness,” his reminiscences from several decades as a sports journalist, runs each Sunday.

Steve also writes Zags Tracker, a commentary on Gonzaga basketball, once per month during the offseason.