Officials made the right call to cancel game

September 13, 2018

To play or not to play?

That shouldn’t even have been a question.

When it became a foregone conclusion that a powerful hurricane named Florence was going to hit Thursday in the Carolinas, the reactions should have been standardized.

Cancel. Cancel. Cancel.

West Virginia University’s game at N.C. State scheduled for 3:30 p.m. Saturday in Raleigh, North Carolina, should be canceled.

So, it was.

The same was true for UCF at North Carolina and East Carolina at Virginia Tech. Both of those Saturday games also were canceled.

Meanwhile, Virginia moved its home game against Ohio University to Nashville, Tennessee, and Wake Forest moved the kickoff up to 5:30 p.m. Thursday against Boston College. Also, Charlotte moved its home game against Old Dominion to 4 p.m. Thursday.

The site and scheduling changes are all well and good, but the cancellations made the most sense.

Yet, some diehard fans still moaned and groaned and whined about their teams not playing.

How myopic.

This extremely dangerous situation is about life and death, not fun and games. While the short-sighted fans worried about losing face and/or momentum, the 1.5 million people who evacuated the Carolinas worried about losing their homes and everything they own.

Perhaps, even their lives.

How can that even be equated in the same sentence?

It’s a sad commentary, chapter and verse, on how out of whack, on how out of proportion, on how out of control some people have become toward sports.

It really isn’t life-and-death, folks.

But a powerful hurricane certainly is.

That’s why I was dismayed that it took South Carolina Athletic Director Ray Tanner so long to decide whether to cancel the Gamecocks’ game against Marshall, scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Saturday in Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia, South Carolina.

Shouldn’t it have been automatic?

It seemed so.

After the university was closed along with governments in 26 South Carolina counties, the decision was obvious.

Cancel or postpone the game.

Yet, even after experts predicted on Wednesday morning that Hurricane Florence was going to turn southward and head toward South Carolina, Tanner still hesitated.

That meant Marshall Athletic Director Mike Hamrick sat by the phone Wednesday afternoon waiting for Tanner to call, while the Herd practiced at Edwards Stadium for a game that quite possibly wouldn’t be played.

Marshall was in limbo.

And it shouldn’t have been that way.

That’s what I appreciated about WVU Athletic Director Shane Lyons’ response to the early cancellation of the Mountaineers’ game.

“First and foremost is the safety and welfare of our student-athletes,” Lyons told HD Media. “Going into that type of situation for their athletes and more importantly the citizens of North Carolina and what they’re going to be facing in the next four or five days, it was very important to be able to release hotel rooms that fans had, give the ability to for those evacuating the coast areas to come inland.

“So, it gave more time and relief from that aspect. That’s why a decision was made early this afternoon (Tuesday).”

And rightfully so.

A decision to cancel Marshall’s game at South Carolina finally was made at nearly 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, after a telephone conversation between Tanner and Hamrick.

It could have been handled with more urgency, but at least the parties did make the correct decision.

South Carolina and MU made the right move.

Chuck Landon is a sports columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at clandon@herald-dispatch.com.

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