In 2016, Pete Ricketts could’ve sabotaged Nebraska football when he criticized three players who knelt on the sidelines before the Northwestern game during the playing of the Star Spangled Banner. Ricketts’ criticism of the players touched off a firestorm of criticism at the time.
There was even genuine concern in 2016 that Ricketts’ actions may have hurt recruiting. Due to our sparse population, Nebraska coaches are required to recruit on a national basis. Over the years, Nebraska has recruited numerous African-American student athletes from urban areas. Ricketts’ foolish remarks sent out the unfortunate message that Nebraska student athletes were actively discouraged from speaking out on important issues.
Once again, Ricketts is sending out a ridiculous message that could sabotage Nebraska football — and college football in general. The billionaire governor has threatened to withhold approximately $100 million in stimulus funds to local governments that require people to wear masks. Obviously, the counties are being held hostage and have no choice but to be bullied by Ricketts.
Ricketts is taking Trump’s side in this foolish GOP culture war despite the fact that he himself has recommended the wearing of a mask. The billionaire governor has put himself in the unfortunate position of sending mixed messages on a very crucial issue.
The former TD Ameritrade executive has also contradicted the advice of health care experts. A recent study from Texas A&M University found that: “(N)ot wearing a face mask dramatically increases a person’s chances of being infected by the COVID-19 virus….From trends and mitigation procedures in China, Italy and New York City, the researchers found that using a face mask reduced the number of infections by more than 78,000 in Italy from April 6-May 9 and by over 66,000 in New York City from April 17-May 9.”
Unlike Ricketts, Alabama football coach Nick Saban is sending out a clear message. Instead, Saban has recommended that we all wear a mask if we want to have college football this fall: “All of us want to make sure we play football this fall. And to make that happen, we must be sure we stay at home if we have symptoms, wash your hands often, follow all social distancing guidelines and please wear a mask anytime you’re around other people.”
Already, the corona virus is threatening the college football season — and sports in general. Numerous players have come down with the corona virus at such Power Five programs as Clemson, Florida, Texas, L.S.U., Iowa and Kansas State. It’s not a coincidence that these outbreaks of the corona virus are occurring in red states where Republican governors opened up the economy too early and haven’t encouraged the use of masks. We don’t want this to happen in Nebraska.
The U.S. is currently facing perhaps the gravest crisis in its history since the American Civil War. Many Americans are unhappy and maybe even demoralized. The country badly needs the return of sports to lift the national mood. In the dark days after Pearl Harbor, President Franklin Roosevelt sent a letter to the commissioner of Major League Baseball on January 15, 1942, that recommended that baseball should continue: “I honestly feel that it would be best for the country to keep baseball going. There will be fewer people unemployed and everybody will work longer hours and harder than ever before. And that means that they ought to have a chance for recreation and for taking their minds off their work even more than before.”
It appears to me as though this country simply lacks the leadership that we have had during past national emergencies. That means it’s up to all us to step up if we want the return of college football. Everybody, please wear a mask when you are around other people. It’s a pretty simple sacrifice that pales in comparison to sacrifices made by the American people in past times of trouble.
I would also recommend that you commit your time and/or money to good legislative candidates. We need a check and balance on Ricketts. Elections have consequences. Let’s chase the money changers out of the temple in 2020! Together, we can whip the corona virus and take our country back!