The evening after everything settled, as the dust and debris finished falling on the crater that was the 2020 college football season, I saw a reporter tweet that it was a good night for a drink.
Who would disagree?
Fans chimed in expressing a similar sentiment, some sharing pictures of their own beverage of choice. They’d lost their beloved college football Saturdays, the weekly tradition that carried many from late-summer afternoons all the way through winter.
But what we often lose sight of—because it involves empathy and worrying about those most vulnerable in certain situations, something we’re not real great at right now—is that losing this season is so much bigger for so many people.
Like that reporter. And many more in all facets of media.
It wasn’t even a full 24 hours after the Pac-12 canceled their season that a studio host at the conference’s own cable network—Michael Yam, who’d been there since its launch— posted this.
I’m struck by “best day of my professional life” line. And this note isn’t the first one of these I’ve seen. Surely not yours, either.
Having worked in sports and socially connected with many who do or did the same, I’ve seen a frequent and painful undertone—this was their dream job, the culmination of so much hard work.
Even it being the peak of the mountain in the eyes of many, it comes with sacrifices. Long hours. Less pay.
But you work for those special moments, and they get wiped out by something like this.
I wish I could find the original tweet that really underscored this point for me, but I’ve tried and I can’t—that original point being that for many people in many industries who lose their gig to this, it isn’t the end of a job, but possibly the end of the line. Of their career. Of their dream.
So when the news comes down that the season is canceled, this one or any other, it’s more than losing entertainment. For many, they’re losing the life they thought they had—even if their own employment standing didn’t officially change with the news.
The writing is on the wall, walls that probably feel like they’re closing in.
This isn’t to lose sight of the everyday folk who are impacted by this, just less directly. Small businesses that were hanging on by a thread in cities like Eugene and Ann Arbor and Pullman and Iowa City may have just seen that thread snipped.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
In May, chiming in on the closure of beloved Seattle restaurant Il Corvo, I wondered aloud if we were really going to do a few of these every week for the next 18 months, as if nothing could be done.
And holy hell, at least few months in, we really are.
That’s as the rest of the developed world looks like this.
And the insane thing is—acknowledging that jobs and business and commerce are small things when 1,000 people die a day from the pandemic—this approach was supposed to be good for business.
This was the approach that was supposed to help the everyman, letting them keep working, letting them keep their shop open.
But all this is to say that, when you mourn the loss of epic clashes at the Greatest Setting or wild Saturday nights in the Palouse, remember it’s bigger.
That isn’t to shame anyone to whom this is a big deal. Because that’s the last thing anyone needs.
But, when you pour yourself a drink for the 2020 college football season, think of those in even worse shape.
And maybe pour one out for them, too.