The Back Nine: Sports fans’ stages of grief

Fans wave their cell phones during Tom Petty's "I Won't Back Down" at the beginning of the fourth quarter of Florida’s Nov. 30 game against Florida State at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium before a crowd of 89,409. [Doug Engle/Staff photographer]

The Back Nine comes at you after the first of many weekends with no sports viewing. It wasn’t that bad, but I certainly wouldn’t want to do it all the time. Maybe I should have bought some Netflix stock.

  1. There are five stages of grief and I think we’ve been through them all this week, even though a majority of us have not been through any REAL grief. Let’s keep things in perspective. First came denial, nobody believing they would actually cancel March Madness, the Masters and an entire college baseball season. Next is anger and I received a good dose of that from Kentucky fans at the hotel bar in Nashville, “It’s not like there are bodies in the street. This isn’t The Walking Dead,” bellowed one fan. He wasn’t happy. Then we have bargaining. OK, at least there’s golf so we’ll have something to watch. Wait. What? And depression, which I’m sure all of you sports fans have dealt with at some point and probably still are. And finally acceptance that we need to stop this before it gets really bad and it will make us stronger and appreciate sports when they return. 
  2. The savior for me and a lot of people this weekend was playing golf Saturday and Sunday. There wasn’t a lot of social distancing there, but I can’t help but wonder if it would be smart at golf courses all over the country to limit carts to one rider. Well, those that are remaining open. It’s going to be a rough stretch for those of you who listen to a lot of different sports talk shows. There are going to be a lot of them that resort to the old stand-bys of Mount Rushmores and brackets for cereals. Let’s see if we can’t be more creative. Maybe I can break down Florida’s football schedule again.
  3. I know there was a lot of support for the release of a bracket by the NCAA even though it wouldn’t have been played. Coaches wanted it for two reasons — bonuses for making the tournaments and the young men and women getting to say they would have been in. But think about this. You were going to sequester the committee into a meeting room and have them hash it out? That seems impractical considering what we are dealing with. And why would the committee want to put out a bracket just so it could be criticized? Makes no sense. Not a lot makes sense right now. What’s with the run on toilet paper?
  4. The Back Nine feels especially bad for these people in no particular order (and understand, there are degrees of feeling bad for someone; we all feel the worst for anyone who has the disease or has passed away):
  • Dayton’s basketball team and coach Anthony Grant. I thought they could win it all and it feels like a once-in-a-lifetime chance.
  • Any players, not just the seniors, who lost a majority of their spring seasons. The seniors will get an extra year of eligibility, but they still have to feel lost right now.
  • All of the workers who counted on sporting events for income and that includes announcers and public address workers who were independent contractors. Hopefully, the generosity we have seen to help pay many of these people will be the norm.
  • Anyone who had tickets to the Masters.
  • Everyone else who loves sports.

* Everyone else.

  1. OK, let’s get off this for a minute and write about some sports. As I was boarding a plane in Charlotte (with Lysol wipes close at hand), the news broke that Lomas Brown will be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. I don’t know why it took so long, because I think Brown was the best offensive linemen in Florida history and one of the best in college football. So I started to think about the Ring of Honor and the complicated situation with Brown. Because he doesn’t meet any of the criteria that UF has established to get into the Ring, he isn’t eligible, but certainly that could be rectified to include Hall of Famers. For example, I think Carlos Alvarez should be in. But the problem for Brown is that he admitted to NCAA violations when he was at Florida. So what do you think? 
  2. Our State Senate, with so much time on its hands, passed a resolution to declare Florida State the national champs in basketball by default. True, the Seminoles could have won it all, but they also could have been knocked off on the first weekend. Shoot, there are a lot of teams that could declare themselves national champs (the South Carolina women come to mind), but let’s not see a bunch of UCF reactions. There is no tournament. FSU is the regular season ACC champion. Gonzaga has more of a claim. But none of it matters. We just have to accept that.
  3. I am like every other sportswriter trying to come up with ideas for the hiatus and this is one of them. Back in 2006, we came out with the 100 greatest players in Florida history. A lot of great players have come through UF since then. Maybe we could revisit the Top 100? Hey, I’m trying here. 
  4. The Tweet of the Week goes to ESPN’s Adam Schefter — “A glimpse of our world: With free agency on track for this week, some teams are planning to use private planes to fly in premier free agents. Still, those flights require pilots to leave home and work, and teams are not pleased about this. Teams NOT happy free agency this week.” You would think it could have been pushed back. But the NFL is its own entity.
  5. My personal holiday always creeps upon me because I am always immersed in the NCAA Tournament. This year, St. Patrick’s Day is front and center, but we won’t be able to celebrate it with a lot of glee. Maybe we’ll discover that green beer and cabbage kill the virus. Anyway, here’s a playlist to get you through the day,

* “Drunken Lullabies” by Flogging Molly.

* “Zombie” by The Cranberries.

* “The Rocky Road to Dublin” by The Tossers.


* “Finnegans Wake” by Dropkick Murphys.


* “I Had A Hat” by just about any Irish group you want to sing it.

A happy St. Patrick’s Day to you all and hopefully next year we’ll all be dancing a jig.

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


  1. This is bazar. Ever individual should do their part protecting themselves from the virus and others. Government is trying at ever level. That didn’t happen in 2009 with the Swine Flu and 18,000 Americans died (about like existing Flu). A 22 year old 2nd cousin of mine didn’t heed his Father’s advice and stay home, instead going to Disney World with two of his friends. They all got the Swine Flu with two only being sick for a couple of days. Chase drowned with pneumonia. Nothing modern science could do. Was just 22, 6’2′ tan with movie star looks. It was fate and his appointed time, but Pat that was a young man not listening to older advice…just saying.

  2. And for those who make money at GATORNATIONALS, and/or LOVE the smell of NITRO in the late morning, like me. And with NO WORD on a make-up date, thanks for that too. Not really.
    And, ”Go… VACCINE!” So people won’t be so scared the actually come outta their bunkers.