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Sports Saturday

Will COVID-19 take our football season, too?

Scientists are estimating that between 40% and 80% of the global population could become infected. According to my admittedly pedestrian-level math, one year plus 60% or so equals no Bears game in Week 1.

Detroit Lions v Washington Redskins
There aren’t many less satisfying sights than an empty football stadium.
Photo by Matt Hazlett/Getty Images

I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to see how the Bears’ quarterback competition between Mitch Trubisky and Nick Foles plays out in 2021.

Sorry, did I say 2021?

I meant 2021.

Oops, there I go again. I meant 2020.

Maybe.

It gets harder by the day to believe that sports — the games, the action, the conversation pieces, the appointment TV around which many of us revolve — will return any time soon. March Madness is dead. The NBA and NHL seasons might soon be beyond the point of return. The baseball season is in grave peril.

Every day — and by that I mean, quite literally, every day — the reports, official pronouncements and speculation from doctors and scientists have gotten worse. More dire. More foreboding. More disquieting and depressing.

The coronavirus pandemic abounds with unsympathetic alacrity. We all know it’s bigger than a sports problem, but what if?

What if all of the above sports are wiped out in 2020, and football is, too?

No less of an authority on pandemics than President Donald Trump says the United States could be wrangling with the outbreak through July or August. And if we can’t trust the word of the all-knowing Donald, whom can we trust?

Dr. Anthony Fauci, a real, live infectious-disease expert, says it will be a year or longer before a vaccine is ready for widespread use in the fight against COVID-19. What does he know, right?

Meanwhile, more broadly speaking, scientists are estimating that between 40 and 80 percent of the global population could become infected. According to my admittedly pedestrian-level math, one year plus 60 percent or so equals no Bears game in Week 1.

But maybe I’m just cynical. Certainly, I’m wary and feeling vulnerable these days. We all are, aren’t we?

I have an elderly parent who is too sick to take on the coronavirus. I have a sibling whose family may be taking it on already but can’t yet be tested. I have a child whose freshman year of college has collapsed in a heap and a high school senior whose prom and graduation — and tours of colleges — probably won’t happen. I have children who had jobs and suddenly don’t. As someone whose livelihood depends upon sports, I sure worry about my job, too. It’s kind of necessary right now that I keep it.

But that’s just me. I’m no more important, no more put-upon, than anyone else.

I’m guessing you — and by that I mean every single one of you — can relate on some level. And the virus hasn’t even knocked on our doors yet. Or has it?

Maybe worrying about football is stupid, or beside the point, but right now it feels like a big deal. We’ll need those slobberknockers, won’t we? We’ll need the games on Sundays and Saturdays to set things right again.

The NFL is going about its business as if nothing is amiss. A new collective-bargaining agreement between players and ownership was approved last weekend. Player movement — hello, Mr. Foles — is afoot.

God bless it all, because the loss of football could be devastating. No, not in a life-or-death sense. We aren’t dummies just because we love sports, after all. But football, more than any other sport, makes the sports world go round. And we’re absolutely going to need it.