Sure, there’s lots of actual sports going on this week. At one time, I had several friends who I’d often watch games with, often with camaraderie, food, drink and shared passion. One in particular has now become so conditioned to social isolation that he is adamant he cannot, will not, under ANY circumstance, want to be anywhere where there’s even a remote chance he might pick up COVID-19. Forget the fact that he regularly goes out to dinners and attended conferences with his significant other, whose own level of “abundant caution” is exponentially greater than his. The bottom line is, as he continues to insist, “he’s making his choices” and I watch way too many events alone. I’m sure those of you who read this regularly know how much that has affected my own mental health, particularly at a time when by necessity I chose to move on from a nearly fatal past life and so badly need some semblance of physical connection.
So when this story dropped yesterday from the Los Angeles Times’ J. Brady McCollough it most definitely caught my attention:
The San Diego Bowl Game Assn. is seeking a minimum payment of $3 million in compensatory damages from the Pac-12 Conference and the University of California Regents, stemming from the UCLA football team backing out of the 2021 Holiday Bowl in the hours before kickoff because of a rash of positive COVID-19 tests that depleted the depth of its defensive line. The SDBGA said in the filing it lost more than $3.6 million in ticket revenue it had to refund as a result of the cancellation and $1.4 million that had to be returned to the game’s title sponsor. The bowl’s total losses approached $8 million.
The bowl argued in the lawsuit that its obligation to the Pac-12 for the participation of the Oregon Ducks in December 2022 game against North Carolina was $2.45 million. According to sources familiar with the ongoing discussions between the sides, the SDBGA informed the Pac-12 a week before the payment’s due date in April that it would apply the payment toward what it felt the Pac-12 owed from UCLA’s 2021 cancellation.
“This offset was fair, just and equitable,” the filing states.
That’s further exemplified by some specifics that the bowl committee cited in how the Bruins who showed up were acting just before the game they were contractually obligated to play in was to kick off:
The lawsuit points states the Bruins enjoyed the bowl festivities leading up to the game, including a trip to Sea World, a visit to a U.S. Navy ship and other team events. The filing also mentions UCLA players, coaches and administrators “took advantage of hosted food and beverage at a hospitality suite furnished for them as part of their participation.”
The UCLA football social media account posted videos of players participating in the events, with some of them unmasked.
I’ll pile on from here.
UCLA and many of its most influential donors reside in and politically support a city that continues to cling to the myths that COVID-19 was so dangerous, such an existential threat, that it was one of the last to finally concede that mandates were no longer possible to enforce, with draconian laws sunsetting in the middle of last month. And yet, it seems everywhere I look, there are still countless examples of people who continue to sneer through their face diapers at someone like myself, continue to point to the floor at the lingering social distance markers, and continue to believe that someone like myself is little more than an asympomatic superspreader. That degree of entitled vitriol was certainly prevalent in December 2021 as the Omicron variant spread. That didn’t stop UCLA from at least showing up to play in a game close to home where they stood to make money and satisfy fans who paid good money to cheer them.
What DID stop them, the same thing that kept them from having any fans to Pauley Pavilion during the early part of the 2021-22 basketball season, was the overriding fear of a lawsuit from some well-heeled paranoid parent who might feel that the school put their child at risk, the same sentiment that kept classes remote longer than most other schools were, resulting in irrevocable damage to test scores and the learning process, And as we’ve learned in hindsight, little more than a bad cold was FAR more often the result, particularly among younger, healthy people like college football players.
And I know this because yours truly, desperate to see a game, attended the first home men’s basketball game where tickets were sold, a January 25, 2022 key conference matchup with Arizona State which was being covered by national television. Both teams were in the Top 10; UCLA won a thrilling game with a late run. I wore a mask, to be sure, because the arena had signs posted everywhere strongly encouraging it. But it was a damn sight more stylish one than a paper-thin, hideous, air-choking, face diaper. And eminently more effective, as statistics showed at the time and continue to prove when actually measured by independent authorities, not the agencies goosing numbers to justify their raison d’etre.
Funny how when once the prospect of making real money was in play somehow all of those frets and worries that had UCLA somehow pull the excuse “defensive line depth” out of its ass to support picking up their ball and going home less than a month earlier from San Diego was somehow considered secondary to that overused “abundance of caution” theory?
Abundance of caution? I’ll fall on my sword, with facts to back up my beliefs, that it was an abundance of misinformation and conflated statistics from the likes of my one-time quaran-tine Dr. (of sociology) Barbara Ferrer was shoving down the Regents’ throats, just as she was mandating that the 3M made face diapers and pig snouts–the company that was contributing heavily to the Democrats who were running for office that gave her the authority, power and supposed street cred to change lives and perceptions that linger to this day–that had UCLA and the Pac 12 believe they had a “force majeure” clause that would justify their choice not to play.
And as the photographic evidence they cite detailed, they obviously didn’t ingest their pasta and cocktails through an IV needle.
Those that claim folks like myself are selfish for wanting connection are the epitome of self-centered and as maniacal about their beliefs as those they claim are trying to kill them by choosing to breathe fresh air. Somehow, it’s apropos that the face diapers that continue to be the choice of those who still can’t get it through their thick skulls that there’s not enough danger to warrant their useless addiction are often the same color of UCLA’s uniforms.
Everyone is free to make their own choices, of course. But don’t think your actions don’t have consequences. The Holiday Bowl was more than inconvenienced. Remember they lost the 2020 game entirely because there wasn’t even the chance to sell tickets at that point–California’s mandates were in full force and, yes, with justification. At that time. After a year of vaccines and education, the Omicron panic attack was proven to be an overreaction. They had every right to expect that a game would be played in 2021.
So yes, much as I like UCLA sports (and many other Pac 12 schools, to be sure), I’m REALLY pulling for the SDBGA to win this case. Anyone who feels that strongly about “safety” should be more than willing to accept accountability for their choices, putting their money (which based upon what they took in at that basketball game I attended alone they can more than afford) where their mouth is.
Better that than a mask.