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The Mid-American Conference postpones fall sports, becoming the first significant domino to fall

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Akron v Miami Ohio Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

Folks, welcome to the beginning of the end. UConn made news this week with its unilateral decision to skip the 2020 football season, and on Saturday, the Mid-American Conference announced that it is postponing all of its fall sports, which of course includes football.

“Clearly we are charting a conservative path — and it is one that has been recommended by our medical advisory group,” [MAC Commish Jon Steinbrecher] told reporters on a video conference. “There are simply too many unknowns for us to put our student-athletes in situations that are not clearly understood. We have traditionally been a leader on student-athlete well-being issues. This has not been an easy decision. For the Mid-American Conference, it is the right decision.”

It’s a big step to have an FBS league opt out of 2020, and it’s important in that it provides a pathway for everybody else, since everyone from the NCAA on down has been shirking off major decisions here in the hopes that somebody else would take care of that for them.

That’s a sorry piece of reality in this mess, and that’s why players in the Pac-12 and elsewhere understandably are skeptical of the people running the show. They should feel left out to dry, given that they have been.

It shouldn’t take long now for the cowards at the big-money institutions to follow the MAC’s lead, as they’ve been given an excuse now to back their way accidentally into doing the right thing, which is not playing any team sports this fall. Power-conference officials could have led from the front, but genuine leadership is always too much work, particularly when a lot of money is involved—and you can’t grow a conscience.

The immense level of pussyfooting around what is an enormous moment for the sport is pathetic and embarrassing and absolutely not surprising at all. As the athletes are learning all too quickly, the adults in the room often are anything but.