It's a tough situation for a lot of people right now.

Strictly looking at it from a sports perspective, a lot of players and coaches have gotten the short end of the stick since March. Spring sports, along with some winter sports, were cut short with no state, conference or national championships being awarded across high school and collegiate athletics.

A fair amount of fall sports are about to receive the same short end of the stick that the other seasons got earlier this year. Last week the Southland Conference announced that no volleyball or soccer nonconference games can take place until Sept. 1 at the earliest.

In an attempt to limit travel and save money, the McNeese State athletic department decided to eliminate all 2020 nonconference games for the volleyball and soccer teams, meaning that both women's teams will start their seasons in mid-September with conference play.

Cowgirls volleyball is now scheduled to open its season on Sept. 24 against Southeastern Louisiana, while soccer will host Nicholls State on Sept. 18 to start its season.

While neither SLU soccer nor Nicholls volleyball have released their schedules. The possibility remains that those teams could choose to play nonconference games in the weeks leading up to the start of conference play, which would definitely have them playing sharper than either McNeese, which will have had some weeks of practice, but no full games against opponents. Other conference teams will definitely be at an advantage, which I don't feel is fair to McNeese volleyball or soccer.

I understand why the McNeese athletic department made the decision. It's saving money by not having to bring those athletes in early so they won't have to feed or house them for almost another month. And they eliminate the travel costs associated with those nonconference games that were cut.

Even the less thought about factors like electricity and water being saved at the athletic facilities.

I get all that.

And while it's certainly better than an alternative that involved cutting those programs, it is still a bad look on the McNeese athletic program. Especially when measured up against the football program, whose two-game nonconference schedule was kept safe, like all other football teams in the SLC.

McNeese's decision to cut all nonconference games for volleyball and soccer basically said the quiet part out loud: football is more important because it's the athletic department's moneymaker, and we're about to show that.

I'm sure first-year volleyball head coach Kristee Porter wanted to see what her squad looked like in some matches that don't have implications to the standings before jumping into conference play. Likewise, soccer head coach Drew Fitzgerald probably wanted to see if his team could build on a potentially strong nonconference to compete for the SLC regular season and tournament titles.

Mostly I feel for the senior players, knowing that they've had a portion of the schedule of their last college season cut off. Some of that team bonding and possibly going to play at schools that they never had before is not possible.

Fortunately both teams can still win their conference championships and play in the postseason, something that the football team can't do.

The bottom line is, those teams work just as hard as the revenue-generating sports and it's a shame that they have to be punished and lose part of their season because they're not revenue-generating sports.

I get it, I really do. It just doesn't sit well with me.

But it's better than nothing.


David Berry covers McNeese State athletics. Email him at dberry@americanpress.com

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