Nate Allen is a columnist for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Missouri, Allen is a voter for the Heisman Trophy, has been inducted into the Arkansas Sportswriters and Sportscasters Hall of Fame, and has authored three books about the Razorbacks.
Gridiron hopes remain high for fall
An Arkansas football helmet sits on the sideline during a game between the Razorbacks and Mississippi State on Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019, in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE — Here’s hoping by late August when this column resumes from hiatus that there will be football to write about.
Not memory lane football. Not future football. Present tense, readying for the season that the Arkansas Razorbacks officially start Sept. 5 football.
Alas, it’s a hope now that more seems a pipe dream. A pipe dream with no ready vaccine.
The too often still surging coronavirus numbers canceling collegiate sports since mid-March don’t bode well for an imminent return.
Large gatherings here and there evoke national medical community concerns.
Multiply scattered events by coast to coast college football weekends. Then ponder exacerbating the crisis for contagion and cringe.
Much had to reopen economically essential from the initial coronavirus closedowns. Though craved, football and its attracting crowds and habits defying social distancing isn’t essential. Not nationally essential even as football is the economic essence for many Division I athletic programs.
Some do deem college football so vital to propose playing for its TV money without fans and even if on-campus classes remain shuttered as most have since mid-March.
Contagion concerns canceling on-campus classes should cancel sports, NCAA President Mark Emmert asserted.
Arkansas Athletic Director Hunter Yurachek all but dittoed that when interviewed in April.
“Somebody is going to have to do a great, big selling job on myself and my colleagues across college athletics that if it’s not safe enough for fans to be in the stands, how is it safe enough for our student-athletes to be on the field?” Yurachek said. “I don’t see a scenario where there’s a fall semester with no students on campus and we have a fall semester where our student-athletes are on campus. I don’t see where that happens at the University of Arkansas or any institution throughout the country.”
Here’s hoping such stances don’t change should the virus so far killing 120,000 plus Americans not abate.
And if schools do play for the TV money without attending students, then forever eliminate the NCAA invented term “student-athlete.” Minus students in classrooms and the stands, players would be athletes used purely professionally and should be paid accordingly.
PEGGY BAILEY’S PASSING
Since 2019 we’ve mourned Jim Bailey, the best writer ever to grace Arkansas’ sports pages. Now we mourn Peggy Bailey’s Wednesday passing.
Nobody writing in Arkansas ever matched or will match the understated, wry brilliance of Jim’s prose.
No spouse ever met a match exceeding Peggy’s love for Jim and his for her.
They thrived beautifully together for 58 married years with niches of their own.
Always sweet and upbeat and totally selfless, Peggy was Arkansas’ Hospice of the Year Volunteer for 2003.
She unofficially repeatedly earned it years later.
Peggy and son Bobby and daughter-in-law Rebekah so tenderly with dignity performed the ultimate family hospice as Jim and his wonderful mind slipped away with Alzheimer’s.
Perpetually with unpretentious but steadfast faith, Peggy believed she and Jim would reunite.
If they haven’t, then the Pearly Gates seem padlocked to us all.
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