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 firstname.lastname@example.org. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.