Sports Lounge.eps

If there ever was a time to reconfigure and restart college athletics, this is it. The pandemic-induced upheaval in college sports illustrates just how far out of whack major college sports has become. What was once the bastion of higher learning has morphed into big business on the backs of amateur athletes.

Which is why I found it kind of refreshing to see the Big Ten and Pac-12 postpone the fall season, while at the same time showing football coaches they do not, in fact, control the schools. So for all the “we gotta play!” bluster spewed by Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh and an increasingly unhinged former University of Notre Dame head coach Lou Holtz (who compared college football to the allied troops landing on the beaches of Normandy, France during World War II), the powers-that-be essentially told them that their opinions simply do not matter.

Now, with a pair of Power Five conferences standing up to the beast that is college football, maybe — just maybe — they can start doing something to address the equity issues that have plagued college sports for years.

The bottom line is this: college football is the 1,000-pound monster in the room, one that has forced other sports to rely on it to pay their way. This would be the perfect opportunity to balance the power football has over the rest of an athletic department. Maybe stop making college football and basketball coaches the highest paid employees in a state (as Jeff Tedford was in his final seasons as the Cal football coach). How about taking some of the 85-100 scholarships major college football teams have, and give it to the softball team that, as of now, has to divide a dozen scholarships into 20 players? Maybe don’t put all the school’s eggs in the football basket, just in case something like a pandemic grinds the money train to a halt.

I know it’s probably wishful thinking, but I really don’t believe the whole of major-college athletics is smart enough to one, take advantage of this opportunity; two, make the right decisions anyway; and three, want to do anything about it to begin with.

***

A little more than two weeks ago, I wrote in this space about the number of state that had moved the start of their football season to the beginning of January. On July 29, there were five states — California, New Mexico, Nevada, Virginia and Washington — and the District of Columbia that were the only high school associations to move off a fall football schedule.

Now, on Aug. 12, nine more states have decided that the continuing pandemic and the questions surrounded it are too much to factor and decided to err on the side of caution and push their football out of the fall window.

Of the nine, only the state of Oregon has put a start date on its season — March 8. The other eight states have yet to identify a new start date.

Now I’m sure I’m going to receive emails pointing out that high school-level sports are going on in other places and others that will stress the importance of playing in the fall. Trust me — no one wants the return of sports more than I do. It’s my livelihood. But I also know that it’s simply not safe enough to play certain sports and there isn’t have enough concrete information about the virus to warrant putting children — and their families and school communities — at risk.

***

I was informed last week by longtime San Mateo County media maven John Horgan that former Aragon boys’ basketball coach Ron Bolin died in late June at the age of 81.

Bolin became a teacher at Aragon in 1963 and took over the boys’ basketball program beginning with the 1979-80 season, stepping down at the end of the 1996-97 season.

Bolin coached the Dons for 18 seasons, winning the 1990 and 1994 Central Coast Section titles, finishing with records of 28-3 and 29-4, respectively. The Dons were also in the 1989 CCS Division III title game.

Bolin was noted for his up-tempo, run-and-gun teams during a time when the half-court game was the preferred style of play.

“It was like watching the Harlem Globetrotters. They would just run up and down the floor, scoring a 100 points. I think they scored 100 points [three or four] times, and it was the greatest show on the Peninsula,” Aragon athletic director Steve Sell told Justin Yang of the Aragon Outlook in 2017. Sell is a 1984 Aragon graduate who returned to the school as a coach in 1989 and as a teacher in 1992.

Nathan Mollat can be reached by email: nathan@smdailyjournal.com or by phone: 344-5200 ext. 117.

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