From the sports editor: Football this fall tough to imagine

They’re working out like there’s a season waiting for them this fall.

What else can Delaware’s football players do?

Unless ­­— until? — somebody tells them differently, the Blue Hens are going to keep preparing like their season is going to start on Sept. 5 at at James Madison.

“That’s one thing we’ve been trying to focus on,” said UD quarterback Nolan Henderson, the Smyrna High grad. “We can’t really control the outside things. We can’t be thinking, ‘Are we going to have a season?’ or ‘How many games is it going to be?’

“We can only play our part and be prepared for if that time comes or when it comes — that we’re ready to go and there’s no excuses heading into the season.”

After such a rough, pandemic-filled spring, there’s clearly a need for the country to be excited about something — even something relatively small — again.

For a lot of people, having football back this fall would fit that bill.

But it’s really difficult to imagine the sport being played in any kind of normal way, at least not at the local college and high school levels.

Not that organizers aren’t trying to find ways to get football on the field.

At the Delaware Interscholastic Athletic Association board of directors meeting on Wednesday, they threw around the idea of playing football in the spring. At least by then there’d be a better chance of having a COVID-19 vaccine available.

“There was no vote taken but we discussed the possibility of flipping football season to the spring or something like that,” said DIAA chairperson Bradley Layfield, the Sussex Central High principal.

“Well, in a state our size, we would probably need Maryland and Pa. and possibly even New Jersey to all be in line doing it because just about every (big school) football team that I can think of has at least one or two out-of-state opponents.

“In theory, it sounds good. But, if we did that, it would require surrounding states to do the same or we would be playing, six, seven, eight game schedules.”

Playing in the spring also sounds like it’s on the board at the local college level, too.

“I believe that college football will be played within the academic year,” University of Delaware athletic director Chrissi Rawak said last month. “Now, does that mean that it’s a spring sport this year versus a fall sport? Maybe.

“I can’t imagine that football won’t be played within the academic year. It’s just a matter of when and how.”

If they do try to play college football in the fall, there’s no question that schedules could be manipulated to cut down on travel.

One possibility in the Colonial Athletic Association apparently has the league playing this season in four-team pods.

Delaware would be in a pod with Villanova, Towson and Stony Brook. The Hens would face each team twice, home and away.

All football fans — if they’re allowed in to the game at all — would have to keep on their toes. It seems almost a guarantee that games would be postponed at the last minute because somebody on one of the two teams tested positive for the virus.

Or how about healthy teams switching out infected opponents mid-week to still get a game played on Saturday? At the highest FBS levels, it’s a possibility.

Just the cost of testing players, coaches and other personnel every week might be a deal breaker. At roughly $100 per person, only the richest programs would be able to afford it.

The biggest problems in playing a full-contact sport, in the middle of a pandemic where the virus is spread by human contact, are obvious.

But even small details would need to be worked out.

Caesar Rodney superintendent Kevin Fitzgerald said someone pointed out to him that guidelines currently call for referees to wear masks during games.

“So how is the official going to officiate wearing a mask?” said Fitzgerald, who is on the DIAA board of directors. “You can’t blow a whistle. Plus, you try to run with a mask on.”

Before you say, ‘Well just don’t have the refs wear masks,’ you should know that the spray coming off a whistle is considered a perfect way to transmit the virus.

And there really hasn’t been any discussion yet about marching bands and all the potential for spreading the virus through brass and wind instruments.

The bottom line is that there’s a lot standing between us right now and seeing local football played again.

The players, though, will keep preparing for a season that may or may not get played this fall or spring.

It’s all they can do.

“At the end of the day, I’m not the one making any decision on whether or not we’re playing,” said UD safety and Middletown High grad Kedrick Whitehead. “Me and my teammates are going to stay ready regardless of the situation.”

Odds & ends

• Bethune-Cookman voted last week to leave the MEAC — which includes Delaware State — to join the SWAC in the fall of 2021. With Florida A&M and North Carolina A&T also departing, the MEAC will be left with just six football-playing schools.

The league has reportedly hired a consulting firm to search for new member schools.

• Former Delaware basketball star Elena Delle Donne is apparently planning to play this WNBA season. Players had until Wednesday to opt out of playing this summer because of health concerns during the pandemic.

• New Hampshire Motor Speedway announced this week that it will allow fans — at 35 percent of the track’s capacity — for its NASCAR Cup race on Aug. 2. Dover is slated to host its race on Aug. 23.

• Division II Morehouse College officially canceled its upcoming football season on Friday because of the pandemic. It may be the first NCAA scholarship program to do so.