No Spectators, No Game? Notre Dame Coach Says Fighting Irish Might Skip College Football Playoff If Family Members Can’t Attend.

Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly takes the field for an NCAA college football game against Pittsburgh, Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

The convergence of politics and sports is going to be on full display very soon.

In one corner, you have the state of California, which has locked down its residents for months with draconian measures that have done absolutely nothing in the way of lowering the number of people testing positive for COVID-19. The lack of leadership and imagination of politicians in that state is astounding, and one of their decrees has been that all sporting events, including college football, would be “spectator free.”

Well, that’s a bit of a problem, because the Rose Bowl in Pasadena is scheduled to host a semifinal game of the College Football Playoffs. Notre Dame has a good chance of being one of those teams in the Final Four, and coach Brian Kelly said Friday if his players’ families aren’t allowed to be in the stadium watching the game, he just might not show up.

So in the other corner, you have college football teams.

“I’m not sure we’ll play in the playoffs if the parents can’t be there,” Kelly said. “Why would we play if you can’t have families at the game? If you can’t have families at bowl games, why would you go to a game where your families can’t be part of it? What’s the sense of playing a game in an area of the country where nobody can be part of it?”

What Kelly is lobbying for, and what makes total sense, is to move the game from the Rose Bowl to a state that allows at least some spectators to be in the stands. “Why can’t it be the Rose Bowl in Las Vegas or can it be the Rose Bowl in another town?” Kelly said. “Where’s the flexibility for the student-athlete is all I’m saying. The one thing these kids have been is incredibly flexible, and then on the other side we can’t be flexible? It’s hard to imagine.”

This is going to be a very sticky situation. CFP Executive Director Bill Hancock has stated that the game will in fact take place at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, although he hopes that the local government will allow a small number of family members to attend. But California will most likely tighten their lockdown measures, not loosen them. Kelly is upset that the CFP leadership hasn’t been more proactive and figured out a way to make sure parents and family can be there.

“My kids have been on campus since June. They haven’t seen their families very much at all. They’ve had to fight through COVID[-19]; some of them have had COVID. They can’t be around their families for Christmas, and you’re going to tell me we’re going to have a playoff and maybe one site can have families and the other can’t?

“Somebody’s got to wake up in that room and figure this out or you might as well call this the professional league. I am so sick and tired of this playoff committee talking about having sites where you can’t have parents at and their families. It’s ridiculous.”

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