Dooley: Prepare for the sports lockdown

[Staff Photo/Erin Nelson

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The original plan was that the SEC athletic directors and administrators would meet Thursday morning and discuss exactly who would be allowed to have passes to see the SEC Tournament.

There was a blueprint — 12 years old — when the league had to deal with a similar situation because of the tornado that rocked Atlanta.

They never got to it.

As soon as this meeting convened, several hands went in the air. One of them was Scott Stricklin, the Florida athletic director.

“It was kind of, ‘What are we doing here?’ ” Stricklin said. “And there really was no debate.”

As a result, the SEC canceled its tournament along with every other conference and — basically — anything that involves multiple people sitting together for any reason. 

Stricklin knew there would be talk Thursday morning about stopping this event in its tracks. He left the late-night meetings Wednesday “not feeling comfortable about” playing games.

None of us did.

There were coronavirus jokes in the press area Wednesday night between squeezes of sanitizer bottles. But it was more of an example of how people like to lighten the mood when they are scared.

That it took this long is not surprising because there was so much at stake, not only financially but logistically. 

But the bottom line is that the people in charge in all sports knew that the faster they closed down public gatherings, the better the chance this disease can be brought under control.

The last thing you want to do when you have a disease running rampant is set up a bunch of petri dishes all over the country.

We are all on lockdown now and we have no idea how long it will last. 

Everything has changed. And keeps changing.

The dominos have pretty much fallen and the noise has been deafening.

We are about to go through major sports withdrawal. And maybe that’s good for us.

Maybe we’ll appreciate it more when it comes back.

This is crazy, unlike anything we have ever seen. 

Remember when the big fear for every bubble team in college basketball was a quick exit from its conference tournament?

In 2020, every team had a quick exit and we all discovered a new fear.

Forget the bubble, bracketology and NET Rankings. This is real life and most of us are very afraid. All of that hand-wringing over whether or not Florida would make the NCAA Tournament turned out to be a waste of energy and reminded us that sometimes we take sports a little too seriously.

Let’s stop talking about whether it happened too fast or not fast enough. There is no primer on how to handle something this historic. There is no commissioner of sports. There isn’t even a commissioner of basketball, which is why the news broke in waves Wednesday night instead of with one swift action.

Be worried. Be smart.

I don’t know how we’re going to come through this. 

Let’s just hope we do.

Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at And follow at




  1. And now we all get to GO HOME and watch about the Corona Virus. It’s the fine delicacy imported from China. And nothing else is happening, no sports, so go home Arnold, Pat, & Robbie, too. The virus has ended all western casual lifestyles and sporting enjoyments. From open air, Gatornationals, to the SEC Tourney!

    Warning: we’re all gonna die ‘IF’ we enjoy ourselves… so don’t!

    However, all the NEWS ROOMS are OCCUPIED, and people sitting closely together, breathing on one another… things that make you go, ”HMMM!”

  2. Gatorgi70x7, we’ve been cleared to work remotely. So, we have that going for us.

    UF teams will still practice, so hopefully we can have updates from coaches and player interviews (from a safe distance, of course). Stay tuned.

    Now I have time to watch “The Irishman”

  3. Honestly, I was referring to national news media outlets. But happy you all will be OK. The season for football will be canceled, too, soon. Watch! At least until after the Pres. election in Nov.
    And “The Irishman” is amazingly entertaining. I binged on it in a weekend. It is great to be able to binge on other things as a 51 yr. old. Alchohol and drugs are overrated. Binge on “Hunters,” if you get the chance. It is awesome, too! Take care! See y’all after the Pres. election, when things come back to normal.

    • Thanks Galvezgator!
      But I can’t ”call my Dad” as my Dad took his own life in 2001.
      And I am calm. THE ONLY 1 apparently!
      The #’s don’t match the ”cancellations” of all events.
      327,000,000 people in USA today (low est. being generous) and only 1,500 infected (again generous #’s) so, do the math, it is only 0.000005% of AMERICA is infected with Corona, and we are CANCELING LIFE! ”Hysteria” isn’t just a great song by Def Leppard. LOL! Peace!

  4. Sorry galvezgator, I didn’t see your “Pat,” I thought you were addressing me. And Pat isn’t here though. He NEVER RESPONDS to comments here, ever!
    Mr. Arnold Feliciano, Pat’s boss does. And he’s a good guy. Take care!

  5. Arnold, why did you have to be “cleared” to work remotely? Isn’t that like needing permission to go to your own home and use your own computer?

    If Scott Stricklin is so concerned that there was no question as to whether to stop the tournament, he must have been terrified just travelling to Nashville for the meeting. Poor thing, I hope he can recover from the trauma.

    I suppose he’s a hero now for saving the lives of our players and coaches. But as daz points out on another article, he’s just a bit late. Why wasn’t this event (and the others) cancelled because of the flu, which has proven itself, both historically and currently, to be far more rampant and far more deadly.

    If sports officials are supposed to be able to guarantee no-risk participation for players, coaches, and fans, why were such events ever scheduled in the first place? That’s a guarantee they can’t make, with or without the coronavirus. Life IS a risk, and if you’re afraid of your own shadow it will pass you by.

    No evidence has been presented to show, or even suggest, that coronavirus is worse than the flu. It appears that only the elderly, sickly, and very young are at any serious risk. Since there are very few of those people at sports tournaments anyway, to cancel all tournaments across the board is an unwarranted, fear producing overreaction akin to being afraid one’s aforementioned shadow.

    Reasonable adults can make their own decisions and don’t need to be protected from themselves, as liberal politicians and petrified AD’s are wont to do. The games should’ve been played with appropriate warnings for all involved to protect themselves. Fans, players, and coaches could’ve been allowed to opt out if they so chose. If Keyontae Johnson didn’t want to play, Dontay Bassett could take his place. If Mike White didn’t want to coach, Al Pinkins could replace him. If the entire team didn’t want to play, they could forfeit. If fans didn’t want to come, they didn’t have to, but at least allow them the choice.

    I was most disappointed by what came out of Rick Barnes’ mouth. He said his team was scared. That’s the direct result of an irresponsible media panic and Barnes himself failing to point out to his top notch athletes that their conditioning means they’re not at all likely to be harmed by the coronavirus any more than they are the flu.

    Once the entire populace has been appropriately scared to death, people will hole up in their homes refusing to go to work. If that happens long enough, essential goods and services will cease to be delivered, and then real harm will be done. Pat’s last two sentences merely aid and abet the hysteria. GS and Scott Stricklin, please stop “helping” us.

    • Joe, my friend, we not only live in a nanny state but now a nanny culture as well. We should of course be serious and vigilant about any novel disease whether or not it has similarities to and characteristics of diseases we’ve already seen, which is why CDC is there and has a direct line to POTUS…..which ever one of 57 genders he, she, or it may be. I cannot help but think, however, that the media hype (“If it bleeds it leads….if it makes snot its hot”) and political exploitation (“POTUS is a racist for calling it the China Virus…..POTUS is xenophobic for call it a foreign virus”) we’ve witnessed has at its own core created much of this mass virtue signaling from otherwise rational decision makers that we’ve witnessed thus far.

      Why is University A cancelling all events? For the same reason everybody is buying all the toilet paper and corn cobs they can find: Everybody else is!

  6. Joe: The bosses would like the sports crew to drop by the office more frequently. And for me to keep longer office hours. Now, we won’t have to for however long this lasts and they prefer we work from home.

    • I get it, Arnold, and I appreciate the predicament they and you are facing. It’s better to be safe than sorry, so I understand. Thanks for allowing me to vent without judging me. Perhaps Scott Stricklin said the only thing he could given the already snowballing overreaction. I will miss Gator sports, but I’ll still be here when they restart.

      Go Gators!