A sports commentator for the New York Times claims that a team that refused to play over coronavirus fears should be crowned college football’s national champion.
For the Times, writer Kurt Streeter praised the University of Connecticut and proclaimed its Huskies as college football’s real championship team, not because of how they played. Instead, he says they’re the champs because they did not play.
“The team we should be cheering won’t be on the field at Hard Rock Stadium near Miami next Monday,” Streeter insisted, adding, “The real champion?”
“The University of Connecticut, which was the first Football Bowl Subdivision team to squarely face the coronavirus and decide against playing a single snap during a raging pandemic,” he wrote.
Streeter then accused college football of putting money ahead of the safety of the players.
“Given the pain and tumult of the last year, it can be hard to remember there was a time when the powers that rule major college sports were more concerned about the virus than about fattening their bank accounts,” Streeter harangued.
Streeter went on to extol the Huskies for refusing to take the field even as “money-grabbing” college football began to “backpedal” over its earlier cancellations due to the coronavirus.
But not UConn, Streeter wrote in his ode to the Huskies. UConn continued to refuse to play, and that, Streeter insisted, makes them heroes.
Streeter praised UConn and scolded the rest of the league:
If more coaches were willing to take such a stand, maybe we could have avoided the folly of college football during the pandemic. The airplane trips, hotel stays and games played on campuses that were drenched in virus. Maybe we could have avoided the cancellations and the sickness that spread to players, coaches and support staff.
Maybe we wouldn’t have been confronted with the immoral sight of unpaid athletes, bereft of labor and health protections, pushed to the field as an entertainment product in the support of a billion-dollar industry.
Streeter went on to explain that because UConn is close to New York, “which had been devastated by the pandemic,” head coach Randy Edsall decided to allow students to decide what they wanted to do about the virus and he and the college shut the season down.
All that, Streeter said, makes Connecticut the ideal for college football.
“A good place to start would be on the Connecticut campus, home to vaunted men’s and women’s basketball teams,” Streeter said pointing to UConn as the model all should follow. “Both have already been battered by the virus. Yet both carry on, eyes fixed on title dreams and fiscal windfalls, ears closed to the message sent by college football’s real national champion.
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