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Some people have to play their little games


College administrators, academic and sporting, continue to pretend that Everything Is Fine:

The Big Ten will play a 10-game, conference-only football schedule that begins Labor Day weekend and includes ample flexibility, the league announced Wednesday morning.

Each team has two open weeks, and the schedule has four weeks built in to reschedule games. The model allows for Week 1 and Week 2 games to be moved to later in the season. . .

Michigan and Ohio State will face each other Oct. 24 — the first time since 1942 that the rivals will not play at the end of the regular season. The IndianaPurdue game, pitting rivals from opposite divisions, will take place Nov. 21.

The Big Ten also announced medical protocols, including twice-weekly testing for COVID-19. The league will use a third-party laboratory to conduct centralized testing and “consistency in surveillance and pre-competition testing.”

The Big Ten on July 9 became the first FBS conference to reveal a general scheduling model, saying that all of its fall sports, including football, would operate with a league-only slate. But the league had held off on announcing specifics for football as it evaluated medical information about the coronavirus pandemic.

Maryland announced Wednesday that it was preparing to begin the season without spectators in attendance, but “it is our hope that we may be able to welcome some fans to home games as the season progresses and health conditions permit.”

[Insert obvious joke here about how this doesn’t actually involve a policy change for Maryland football]

The cynical view of all this is that universities are pretending there’s going to be a semi-normal fall semester, with thousands of students living on or near campus, while living normal college student lives in ways that maintain appropriate epidemic protocols, because central administrators are just desperate to cash a lot of checks up front. That everything will then get shut down in short order is somebody else’s problem.

(Imagine the outrage there’s going to be among parents writing rent checks when students who signed year-long leases are told three weeks into them that they will not be attending any classes in person for the remainder of the year).

Here in beautiful Boulder, a whole spring and summer of elaborate planning for in-person primary and secondary schools seems to have gone down the drain, as the school district announced yesterday that the school year will start out fully remote, which for younger kids basically means no real school at all, and which of course puts huge numbers of families in impossible situations in regard to balancing work and child care obligations. (One reason the district gave for this change of course is that the University of Colorado’s current plan to have an in-residence school year is likely to lead to a lot more cases in the immediate vicinity).

This is probably the right decision under the circumstances, but there’s no point in pretending it’s not also a complete disaster, because it is, as is indeed this entire country.

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