COLUMN: Lack of fall sports is for the better, but it's a damn shame


Saturday, we were supposed to hear the cannon fire, the fight song and the roar of the Kelly/Shorts Stadium crowd cheering on Central Michigan's football team.

There will be no football on Sept. 5; there will be no football at CMU this fall. Let's face it, folks – that stinks. 

I grew up in a family that lives and breathes college football – that will never change – and not having a full season hurts my heart. It's not just football, either. CMU fanatics are normally gearing up to watch, or are already watching, other fall sports at CMU – men's and women's cross country, soccer, field hockey and volleyball. 

The COVID-19 pandemic forced the Mid-American Conference to cancel the fall season Aug. 8 with the intention of playing fall sports in the spring.

Just five days later, the NCAA canceled its fall championships. Teams can theoretically still play a regular season, but they will not have the opportunity to play for a national title. That decision does not affect the Football Bowl Subdivision, which CMU competes in. 

Obviously, playing sports amid a global pandemic is an idea that needed to be thought out clearly and executed perfectly. Even then, it still may not have been enough for some of the smaller conferences and schools, like the MAC and CMU. 

I do not doubt CMU would have found a way to make sure all of the proposed testing protocols were taken care of, but it would have been another substantial cost to a university which just cut its men's track and field team. 

Other college football fans were more fortunate. Many conferences are focusing on football because, for conferences in the Power Five, the sport is a big money-maker. Other conferences, including some in the Football Championship Subdivision, are playing, too. Other FBS conferences – the Pac-12 and Mountain West – have joined the MAC in shutting down the fall season with hopes to play in the spring. Who knows what the Big Ten is doing, that's a circus. 

Personally, I agree with the decision the MAC and its university presidents made to shut down the fall season for the first time in the conference's 74-year history.

Even though I agree with the decision, does not mean I'm happy about it. 

I enjoyed the experience of covering the CMU football team and other sports, and I was excited to do it all again. This time, with more knowledge and ideas to bring to the table. Those ideas will have to wait, hopefully, until the spring.

I feel for the student-athletes affected by this decision and hope they're able to play this spring. Especially the seniors who are looking to put on their uniform and take the field, court or pitch with their teammates one more time. 

My heart goes out to those I have formed friendships with by working in the athletic department and other media outlets who may have lost their jobs because of the pandemic. 

I also want to acknowledge our readers and followers who have grown accustomed to top-notch coverage of their favorite teams. Don't worry, folks, Central Michigan Life isn't going anywhere. We will be ready for an incredible spring season. We appreciate your support of our work and hope you will stick with us as we traverse the most challenging period we have ever seen. 

CM Life will still be covering sports on campus. They will just look different than what we're used to. I'm working on organizing coverage for esports, the newest varsity program at CMU. 

There are four different video games the program supports, and we're working on a way to tell the stories of these players and get the message out that these folks mean business. 

There is no doubt that Saturdays this fall around Mount Pleasant will feel empty without football games. It is all for the better, I understand that, but it does not make the emptiness go away. 

We will get through this, as a country, as a community, as a team. We will come out on the other side, whenever that may be, and be able to attend games once again. 

When we do, I can't wait to hear Kelly/Shorts roar.