As the calendar flips to June with no sports in sight, the conversation around UK sports has boiled down to two simple questions: will there be football in the fall? And if so, what will it look like?
The idea of a shortened, fan-restricted or altered season at Kroger Field this year is a strange one. But the idea of a fall without college football altogether is much, much worse. So with that in mind, I consulted some of the country’s leading epidemiologists to come up with these five very serious ideas to save the college football season.
1. BUBBLE BALL
Hear me out: if the name of the game is social distancing, then what better way of ensuring safety on the football field than making it literally impossible to get within six feet of each other? It’s almost too obvious—put everyone in bubbles and play on.
Granted, unlike the well-established sport of bubble soccer, football requires a little more hand mobility than the average bubble generally allows. But I see this as a minor obstacle. All we really need is some armholes—or better yet, the ability to retract those suckers like a pufferfish until contact arrives. The possibilities are limitless.
- Low risk of injury
- Outrageously entertaining
- Limits athleticism
- Probably a lot more fumbles
- Knees don’t touch the grass, so no one knows when the play is dead
2. Bring back EA Sports’ NCAA Football, and just do that instead
We saw the success of UK’s virtual NBA2k tournament this summer. Why stop there? With new NCAA-sanctioned name, image and likeness rights reportedly on the way, this could be the perfect opportunity to bring back an old favorite: the NCAA Football video game series, which was scrapped in 2013 following the Ed O’Bannon lawsuits.
That’s right—we’re talking a 100% virtual football season. Connect the players directly. Update the rosters. Let them play as themselves and see what happens!
Sure, it’s not ideal, but when you think about it the timing couldn’t be better. Big Cat from Barstool Sports has gained quite a following during quarantine for streaming his NCAA ’14 games on Twitch, and with a little help from EA Sports, Kentucky could do the same.
- Greater awareness for e-sports
- No fan restrictions necessary
- Instant SEC contender status
- Not real football
- Wifi lag
- Vanderbilt might be good for once
3. Put everyone in mascot costumes
To borrow another idea from the EA Sports model, I’m a big fan of mascot games. Not only would wearing insulated costumes reduce the risk of spreading a virus (DISCLAIMER: I have no idea if this is true in any way), but I feel like it really magnifies the competitive spirit of the game, too. What could be better than watching Terry Wilson, dressed as Scratch, plow an actual gator into the turf?
As an added promotional feature, they could try handing out wildcat heads to fans as they enter the stadium. Get the crowd into it! (Honestly? I’m kind of talking myself into this one for real…)
- Team solidarity
- Trick plays are much easier
- WKU’s “Big Red” gets the redemption it deserves
- Embarrassing if you lose to this guy >>
4. Bumper cars (duh)
Frankly, I’m surprised no one’s suggested this yet. Much like the bubble idea, giving the players bumper cars would completely negate the risk of contact while maintaining the level of violence that we all know and love. Plus they would have seat belts on, so the safety is really off the charts here.
Someone would have to figure out how to keep it under control on the field without a roof, but that’s the only obstacle I can think of. I say let ‘er rip.
- Fewer concussions (maybe?)
- Tackling is impossible
- Pure chaos, probably
- UK would inevitably decorate them with checkerboards
5. Play the games underwater
Finally, arguably the simplest solution is to just flood the stadiums and play underwater. COVID-19 is an airborne virus after all, so if nobody’s breathing air doesn’t that eliminate the problem? Although they may have to mass-produce mobile oxygen tanks to accomplish this, I think the ideal scenario is something like that one scene from the fourth Harry Potter movie with the magic gills. Maybe the UK training staff can look into this?
Before you say anything, remember: while the passing game may be affected, Kentucky doesn’t exactly run the air (water?) raid these days. With a stacked O-Line and multiple running (swimming?) threats, I think this proposal would only help UK’s mobile offense.
- Weather is no longer a concern
- You could see 15-yard hurdles
- Doubles as a pool trip for the whole family
- Extended replay reviews may be necessary
- Could be an unfair advantage for the land sharks
- Invites Tom Hart to make jokes like “he made a big splash on that one”
In these trying times, we had to get a little creative. Which strategy for saving football is your favorite?