Rose Parade, Virginia Football Canceled

Despite hope for a vaccine, officials are canceling large events months in advance.

While professional leagues and major colleges are still hoping to offer sports again, others are acknowledging reality. Two big announcements dropped yesterday.

Axios (“Rose Parade canceled for first time since World War II due to coronavirus“):

The 2021 Rose Parade on New Year’s Day has been canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Association announced Wednesday.

Why it matters: The last time the Rose Parade was canceled was in 1945 because of World War II. The announcement, almost a half a year in advance, also comes as California Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered the state to roll back its reopening amid a surge of cases.

WUSA CBS 9 (“Virginia high school football will not return in the fall, league officials say“):

High school football in Virginia will not be played this fall as schools continue to adust to reopening efforts amid the pandemic, the Virginia High School League announced July 15.

The league, which sanctions interscholastic play for the more than 250 high schools in Virginia, laid out three different scenarios for sports to resume. While VHSL won’t vote on a final plan until July 27, none of the three scenarios include football being played this fall.


Model 1: All sports remain in their current season, with low-contact sports like golf and cross country proceeding as usual. Theater would be allowed, but high-contact sports like field hockey, football, cheer and volleyball wouldn’t.

Model 2: Spring and fall sports will switch seasons. Tennis, soccer, baseball and softball would be allowed to play as well as track and field in the fall.  But high-contact sports, including spring lacrosse, would be off-limits until spring season resumes around March to allow schools time to figure out more safety precautions and gauge the status of the virus.

Model 3:  All sports would be delayed and then resume in three condensed seasons [in the spring].

Both are big deal moves.

As noted, its announcement, “Since its inception in 1891, the Parade has not occurred only three times – the wartime years of 1942, 1943 and 1945.” But, rather than delay the inevitable for months, they’re pulling the plug half a year out.

While it’s not Texas, Virginia takes its high school football seriously. But, while there are strong arguments for taking the health risks associated with bringing teachers and children back to school, it’s really hard to come up with a good one for adding to those risks for recreation. Yes, sports—and particularly contact sports—teach valuable life lessons. But making grown-up decisions sets a pretty good example here.

It’s understandable why so many universities are trying to figure out how to make online instruction and, yes, football work a few weeks from now. But all indicators are pointing to it not being possible given our inability to contain the virus.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Sleeping Dog says:

    You need to have empathy for the kids, both the athletes and the culture of high school that revolves around the teams, but Virginia is being responsible.

    Given the cost and time invested by participants of the Rose parade, an early decision was needed.

    I think the NBA and NHL will be able to wrap up their past season in their respective bubbles this summer, but I have my doubts that MLB can pull it off. My guess is MLB will fold the season after 20 games. The NFL won’t start, they are 2 weeks away from training camp and are facing a raft of labor issues around the same subjects that MLB faced.

    As we look forward it is hard to see professional and amateur starting before the fall of 2022, assuming a vaccine is available.

  2. Michael Reynolds says:

    Per the Guardian:

    People who have recovered from Covid-19 may lose their immunity to the disease within months, according to research suggesting the virus could reinfect people year after year, like common colds.

    In the first longitudinal study of its kind, scientists analysed the immune response of more than 90 patients and healthcare workers at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS foundation trust and found levels of antibodies that can destroy the virus peaked about three weeks after the onset of symptoms then swiftly declined.

    Blood tests revealed that while 60% of people marshalled a “potent” antibody response at the height of their battle with the virus, only 17% retained the same potency three months later. Antibody levels fell as much as 23-fold over the period. In some cases, they became undetectable.

    “People are producing a reasonable antibody response to the virus, but it’s waning over a short period of time and depending on how high your peak is, that determines how long the antibodies are staying around,” said Dr Katie Doores, lead author on the study at King’s College London.

    The study has implications for the development of a vaccine, and for the pursuit of “herd immunity” in the community over time.

    There may not be a vaccine. There may only be treatment, in which case we’re going to have to resign ourselves to wave after wave of Covid. Some people may get sick repeatedly. Older people or immunocompromised people could get hit again and again until they finally succumb. In which case we’ll evolve a society where any shared activity carries risks. People who go to parades or sporting events do so because they find it fun. But fun and ventilators seldom go together.

    Masks and isolation could be the new normal for decades.

  3. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    This. These are large scale, complex events which require a great deal of planning ahead of time, and which can’t just be cancelled at the last minute due to the 2nd and 3rd order effects that would steamroll from the chaos of abrupt cancellation. I’d say that, given the circumstances, both organizations acted responsibly here and selected the least bad options from a slate of only bad options.

  4. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    The Live Music Industry alone accounts for ~$10B a year in revenue…and has been stopped dead in it’s tracks by Trump’s Plague. Think of the trickle down effects of this…all the vendors, security, etc. not making money.
    The IVY League…No fall sports because of Trump’s Plague.
    I personally have a $5M dollar locker room renovation project, on the boards right now, which likely will not go past the design phase because of Trump’s Plague.
    Despite the NFL’s happy talk…I bet that shoe drops soon, because of Trump’s Plague. How in the fuq are you gonna put 65,000 people in Hard Rock Stadium to watch the Dolphins right now???

  5. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    The Patriots announced yesterday that if and when fans are able to attend the games, they plan on limiting seating to 20% of capacity.

  6. @Sleeping Dog:

    The Patriots announced yesterday that if and when fans are able to attend the games, they plan on limiting seating to 20% of capacity.

    Based on what we have found trying to socially distance stadium-seating style classrooms, that sounds about right.

  7. Tim says:

    The National Office of the Boy Scouts of America has already cancelled next summer’s National Jamboree in West Virginia. Presumably it will take place during the summer of 2022.

    On the various Facebook groups I follow as a Scout Leader, there are the usual, idiotic claims that it’s a sign of other bad things, like impending collapse of the organization because of them giving into liberal agendas and so forth. The real reason is that planning such a massive event (with up to 50,000 attendees) requires contracts to be signed this summer for all the supplies and various support services needed at the site, as well as reservations for transportation by individual groups planning to attend, procurement of equipment for those groups, and fundraising by individuals and groups to pay for it all. Doing all of these things WILL be hampered by the ongoing pandemic and there is no guarantee that everything will be back to normal in time for the event itself.

    Reasonable people understand this, but these are times that bring out many unreasonable people.

  8. Kathy says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    I’ve been doing some hasty reading on immunity.

    The impression I get is that B cells, which make antibodies, will decrease in numbers, thereby producing fewer antibodies. Some B cells will “recall” SARS-COV-2, and be able to make antibodies against it as soon as it comes into the body, as opposed to taking anywhere from a few hours to a few days the first time.

    Therefore immunity.

    I’m not certain this is correct, but it makes sense. Typically, biological systems, such as the human body, are not wasteful of resources. Producing antibodies for a pathogen gone for weeks is wasteful. Producing antibodies for lots of pathogens that have come and gone would be even more wasteful.

    I guess we’ll see.

  9. grumpy realist says:

    Interesting article analysing Trump’s history with the NFL.

    Trump is discovering yet again that you can’t bully your way into being considered one of “the good people.” And that organisations (and their owners) have long memories.