The NFL and NBA also did away with Zoom sessions this fall. But wait! With the advent of Omicron, both the Falcons and Hawks held virtual interviews this week. Different colleges and conferences handled the matter in different ways. The ACC stopped virtual pressers for the 2021 football season. The SEC stuck with them up until its championship game, when there was a mix of in-person and Zoom. This came seven days after Georgia played Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets’ postgame briefing was in-person. The Bulldogs were still Zoomers.
That was pre-Omicron. Yet again, our world is changing with every day. The CFP has decreed that, for its games, their will be no in-person media days at stadiums, no in-person interviews anywhere. Teams have the option of arriving on site two days ahead of the semifinals and the New Year’s Six bowls, as opposed to five days. Oh, and those semis? If, say, neither Alabama nor Cincinnati is fit to play in the Cotton Bowl, the winner of Georgia-Michigan would be the national champ. This assumes Georgia and Michigan are healthy enough to show up on New Year’s Eve.
There’s no telling how these next few weeks will go. If the media can’t be allowed to get close to players and coaches, should players and coaches be forced to work before a crowd of 70,000? With transmission rampant, should non-professionals be forced to board airplanes and stay in hotels? If the CFP isn’t confident it can crown an actual champ, should it bag the postseason entirely?
To that last bit, we already know the answer. No money-making enterprise will be canceled unless/until risk overwhelms reward. If the risks weren’t too great in the days before a vaccine, would an apparently lesser version of COVID be reason enough to quit?
It’s possible all the New Year’s games will come off as planned. Experience, though, teaches us not to underrate COVID. On the evening of March 11, 2020, I watched Georgia beat Mississippi in Nashville on the opening night of the SEC tournament. Fourteen hours later, every sport in these United States had halted. It would be 15 months and two rounds of Moderna before I saw another game in person.