As I look around the country, states are starting to open up.

Naturally that is leading sports conferences, leagues and associations to start discussing how to open up soon. Whether you like it or not, sports seem to be on their way back one way or another.

I'd love to get sports back sooner rather than later. However, I'd like for it to be done responsibly so that the health and welfare of the athletes, coaches, administrators, workers, media and fans who are involved are put in minimal risk.

I'm not naive, there will always be risks, but in this COVID-19 pandemic, I believe it's better to be safe and have some people think the lockdown measures were an overreaction than sorry and have a lot of people upset because family died.

No game is worth even one death from this virus, even as my livelihood depends on games being played.

Anyway, that wasn't the main point of writing this column. Right now I'm staring at the Southland Conference.

I expect the conference to come out with some sort of announcement in the coming days or weeks about how it plans to proceed with short, medium and long-term plans. It's been two months since the SLC basketball tournaments were called off, surely some detailed plans have been laid out.

From a public perspective, the SLC's starting to fall behind other conferences in making major announcements and keeping the public informed as to how it will run for the foreseeable future.

The Big Sky Conference, one of the preeminent conferences in the Football Championship Subdivision, announced on Monday that it voted to let its members decide when they will start practices and competitions.

It is a complex issue for the Big Sky, which has member schools in eight states, because the California State University system has already determined that its member schools will not have on-campus classes in the fall. Some schools will not mandate athletics if other students aren't also on campus.

Sacramento State is a member of the Cal State system, thus putting its fall and some of its winter sports in jeopardy. The University of California System, of which UC Davis is a member, might do the same thing, which would put the Aggies in a bind.

Some conferences have gone even further, as evidenced by Division II California Collegiate Athletic Association suspending all sports for the entire fall semester. Most of the schools in that conference are in the Cal State system, so that shouldn't be a total shock. It has to be said, though, that the CCAA does sponsor football, the sport that is clearly driving most schools and conferences to try and start playing.

The Football Bowl Subdivision Mid American Conference made striking changes to regular-season competitions and championships, reducing the number of teams that make the basketball conference tournaments from 12 to eight, and eliminating first-round games at home-team sites for the time being. All games will be at a neutral venue. Additionally, the conference tournaments for eight other sports were eliminated for at least four years.

Quite a few conferences throughout the country have announced that they will have virtual media days instead of taking the risk of flying and driving in a bunch of people from different locations to be in close proximity to one another. That makes sense at the moment, the optics of having so many people close to each other just wouldn't be good.

I'm surprised the SLC hasn't announced this yet.

The SLC is far from the only conference yet to announce its intentions. In a way, it's good to wait a little longer to see how the landscape of the country plays out. But waiting too long may not be good either. It's a delicate balance that the SLC and other conferences have to strike.

This may come off as criticism for inaction, and there certainly are critical elements, but I don't want it to be seen as just that. I'd rather consider it as bringing awareness to an issue that I, and others, are eagerly waiting to hear about.

Like I said, I totally understand waiting as long as responsibly possible to gather as much information as you can before making decisions and announcements. It's easier to have an idea and scratch it out than put the idea out there and have to take it back.

I'm just here bored and wondering. Don't mind me a bit.


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

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