We spoke too soon.
It appeared so sure, so certain the COVID-19 pandemic was over, we actually celebrated the return to normalcy. I wrote about it, readers rejoiced and we all celebrated our lives getting back to normal.
Particularly as it related to the world of sports.
What’s an Omicron variant?
We were blissfully unaware. Unfortunately, now we know. We also know it is turning our sports world upside-down and inside-out.
Just ask Marshall University veteran men’s basketball coach Danny D’Antoni if he’s worried about the ramifications and repercussions of this new COVID-19 strain.
“Heck yes, I am,” answered D’Antoni quickly, after a recent practice. “I checked the schedule of games for tonight. There are 16 that are going to be played and 14 that have been called off. Yeah, I’m worried.”
As it turns out, D’Antoni’s concerns were well-founded. A couple days after that conversation, Marshall’s game against Southern Miss in Hatttiesburg, Mississippi, that was scheduled for New Year’s Day was postponed.
And the Thundering Herd is far from being alone. West Virginia University also is dealing with a similar problem, as the Mountaineers’ game at TCU on Monday has been postponed due to COVID-19 protocols within the Horned Frogs program.
There goes our fun and games — again.
Five football bowl games have been canceled so far, including the Hawaii Bowl, Arizona Bowl, Fenway Bowl, Holiday Bowl and Military Bowl. Why, College Football Playoff officials even set up protocols in case one of the four playoff schools were to succumb to COVID concerns. (It would have been a forfeiture with the opposing team advancing.)
In fact, it was possible that Alabama, Georgia, Michigan or Cincinnati could have been crowned as national champion without playing a game.
What a mess, huh?
It could be particularly hard on basketball. For example, 32 college basketball games were postponed on Dec. 30. Another 10 were postponed or forfeited on Dec. 31. Then, 33 — including Duke at Notre Dame — were postponed on New Year’s Day. Seven more have been postponed for Sunday.
It has reached the point that Duke iconic coach Mike Krzyzewski is insisting on daily testing in the Blue Devils program.
“I would personally like to go back, like last year, we wanted to make sure everyone that we played was tested,” Coach K told 247 Sports. “We don’t have that mandate now.”
But it’s coming. After a problem surfaced after playing Elon recently, Krzyzewski vowed that more testing would happen.
“We’ve been tested,” he said. “And we’ll be tested every day now just to make sure.”
Welcome back to the COVID-19 existence we thought was in the rear-view mirror.
Yet, as usual, the NCAA is burying its head in the sand.
“At this point, we are continuing the planning for the NCAA basketball championships with the normal format, schedule and multiple host sites,’’ said Dan Gavitt, NCAA senior vice president, who is in charge of basketball.
“However, despite the current challenges we’re experiencing in college basketball, the solutions to these problems during this phase of the pandemic are likely quite different than the dramatic championship format changes we had to adopt last year.”
It looks like “so far, so not good” to me.
But perhaps that’s because we have been there, done that and don’t want to go back.
Unfortunately, we have no choice.
Here we go again, folks.