Friday, August 14, 2020

TRUMP Attack NFL-Ohio State Football Is Canceled. Will Trump Take the Hit

The Big Ten Conference’s decision to cancel its football season reverberated across Ohio, where the Buckeyes’ football program looms large. Some voters blamed President Trump’s handling of the virus.
Photo via @nytimes
 
Header media


New York Times Said "Like the closings of schools, bars, restaurants and churches, the loss of college football — the rivalries, the tailgating, jammed stadiums and marching bands — feels for many Americans as if yet another piece of fabric was being torn from civic life."

CENTER OF THE WORLD, Ohio — As he stood outside the Dollar General store, loading groceries into his pickup, Dennis Kuchta pondered what it will mean not to have an Ohio State football season this fall.

“The bars here will all take a real hit when there aren’t games on Saturdays,” said the 69-year-old retiree, whose son-in-law played on the offensive line for the Buckeyes. “It’s a huge loss, and I don’t think people realize that yet.”

The Big Ten Conference’s decision to cancel its football season reverberated this week across Ohio, where the Buckeyes’ football program looms larger than that of any of the state’s major league sports franchises. A pillar of autumn Saturdays will be missing, and Mr. Kuchta and others in this football-mad corner of the state were looking for someone to blame.

“Trump just blew it,” Mr. Kuchta said, alluding to President Trump’s mismanagement of the coronavirus pandemic. “He just didn’t handle it. He could have shut things down for five or six weeks and figured out what he was doing, but he never had a plan.”

For Mr. Trump, the cancellation of big-time college football in the Midwest and the West — the Pac-12 Conference also canceled its season Tuesday — serves as yet another unmistakable sign of how fundamentally the pandemic has transformed American life and cast a spotlight on his administration’s handling of the crisis. Critics point to South Korea, where fans have been attending professional baseball games for weeks, and to parts of Europe, where some soccer and tennis matches are open to spectators.

And like the closings of schools, bars, restaurants and churches, the loss of tailgating, jammed stadiums and marching bands felt as if yet another piece of fabric was being torn from American life.

In a hotly contested election year, the loss of college football seems almost certain to seep into politics as well. No conference covers as many presidential battleground states as does the Big Ten, the Midwestern behemoth with schools in seven states that are being fought for by both Joe Biden and Mr. Trump.

In crucial battleground states like Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania, where college football serves as an autumn religion not just on campus but in the rural areas where Mr. Trump’s support runs deepest, losing football may be a political stain that the president is unable to blame on his enemies in the Democratic Party or on the media.

“As great as politics is — it’s a sport that so many people enjoy watching — it’s not as important as college football in Ohio, in Georgia, in Alabama,” said Paul Finebaum, who hosts a nationally syndicated college football radio show for ESPN. “And without it, people will be lost and people will be angry. There are layers of blame to go around, and in the end, this transcends sports.”