Covid-19 has ravaged health care systems, the economy, and the lives of families all across the world. There is almost no institution it hasn’t severely hampered in one form or another. This led lots of folks to believe that the weird hodgepodge of sports leagues holding games across the 2020-21 season would generate chaotic outcomes much like what we have seen elsewhere, but for much of “the big three” across both professional and amateur levels, it has been chalk.
Alabama won the college football championship. Tom Brady is in the Super Bowl and so is Kansas City. The Lakers are NBA Champions. The Dodgers won the world series. How could team sports, that should’ve been seriously affected by random and unpreventable chaos, navigate to the end it seems they were always destined to?
1 — Chaos is Not a Ladder
Sorry to disappoint Littlefinger, but chaotic circumstances generally benefit the people who have the most power and are the most prepared to step into a vacuum. If extreme institutional control can help stop the spread of the virus on your team, then the teams with the most money and resources and better leadership will be able to handle outbreaks more effectively, mitigating their effects regarding on-field performance. In other words, Nick Saban is always going to be better than you at keeping his players in a bubble.
2 — “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” – Mike Tyson
Talent isn’t everything in high level sports because usually everyone else is also incredibly talented. Lebron has willed and schemed teams with far less talent to win championships against teams with superior talent. But talent is most noticeable when the plan falls apart. At the beginning of the bubble we all thought it was anyone’s game. No home court advantage. Cinderella teams could get on a hot streak. But instead, what we witnessed is that when the world is falling apart, it’s better to have the best players than the best plays. No offense to the Nuggets or Heat.
3 — The Powers That Be
I add this last reason with a huge caveat; it’s not like it would have actually mattered. Still, it goes without saying that the Cincinnati Bearcats got royally screwed this year, and the CFP committee has gone full mask off with regards to NGAF-ing about the G5. “Go Irish and Gig Em Aggies.” – Bill Hancock*. The reason Cincinnati was left out of the playoff, I suppose, has to do with “strength of schedule,” of which they could do nothing about considering most of the Power 5 leagues decided to do conference-only play for “player safety.”
Some readers might also remember that a certain conference cancelled their entire season due to “player safety,” then decided to un-cancel it after all of the fun they saw the other teams having. Except this time there’s no bye weeks! Yay safety!
What is truly ironic about those at the levers of power leaving out Cincy, is that they used reverse logic to put in a team representing a different state university in Ohio. Ohio State did less than almost any other team in any sport this year and had the Big Ten move mountains to bring football back. They changed the Big Ten Championship Game eligibility requirements, changed the Big Ten COVID protocols for player availability, and were rewarded for all that hard work by competing for a title.
They lost, don’t worry.
*Not an actual quote, but it’s implied.
So this season didn’t exactly deliver on wackiness as far as outcomes go, but take heart we did get to see Florida lose by throwing a shoe at a terrible LSU team, Lou Williams getting in hot water over a to-go order of wings from Magic City, and Tom Brady not knowing what down it was. In summation, take heart Bills fans, there’s always next year.