All posts by Michael Rand

Ex-Deadspin staffers set to launch new site ‘Defector’

Several of the top contributors who left the popular site Deadspin a year ago amid a battle over editorial control with new parent company G/O Media have formed a new site called Defector that is set to launch in September.

Among the names on the new masthead: Drew Magary, David J. Roth, Barry Petchesky and Diana Moskovitz.

Magary and Roth are also going to co-host a podcast called The Distraction. The podcast is set to launch in August, while the Defector site is set to launch in September.

Basically, they’re getting the band back together, which should be very exciting news to a lot of people. That said, it doesn’t exactly feel like Deadspin 2.0 — mostly because of the business model.

In a sign of how the economics of web-based publishing have changed since the site’s 2005 inception, Defector is a subscription-based site instead of one supported by advertising and sponsorship as Deadspin was (and still is, as it continues to operate in the absence of many of the key people who built it).

Subscriptions to Defector are $69 a year for basic access to articles and $99 a year for added perks like commenting privileges, newsletters and other access.

Per The New York Times, there are no outside investors in the site and all employees have about a 5% stake. They will be paid as the site makes money. “If you’re going to take a moonshot, you may as well do it exactly the way you want to,” Kelsey McKinney, a former Deadspin staffer turned Defector contributor said.

Presumably that doesn’t just involve the business side. At the heart of the mass exodus last year was a battle over what topics Deadspin should cover — with its new parent company wanting writers to essentially stick to sports.

On a personal note, I was an avid Deadspin reader for many years after its launch. Magary, one of the world’s foremost tortured Vikings fans, used to appear with me on a regular blog feature after games called “The Monday Meltdown.” It’s not a stretch to say my blog, and the subsequent path it took me on at the Star Tribune, was influenced significantly by the early days of Deadspin. (I even used to use the Royal We! Remember that?)

In this business, there’s no cheering in the press box. But rooting for talented writers to make a living doing without compromise? I’ll do that every day — including right now for Defector.

Use your illusion: Twins season begins as both distraction and reminder

When you weren’t really paying attention this weekend, or conversely you were able to lose yourself in the moment, the Twins’ season-opening series win over the White Sox felt close to normal.

With the game on in the background and the white noise of a crowd providing a familiar hum — while keeping one eye on proceedings while working on other things — things felt familiar.

When Jake Cave hit a long fly ball to left on Sunday, barely clearing the wall, I felt a good 30 seconds of genuine baseball reflection: The difference between four runs from a grand slam and zero runs on a long fly ball out was a mere matter of inches. Baseball is wonderful in that way.

But the mundane moments of being present, at least to me, felt as jarring as the other moments were soothing. The strange cardboard cutouts behind home plate and in the stands: a constant reminder of an empty stadium, and therefore a reminder of why the stadium was empty. You know, the global health pandemic causing death, sickness, economic devastation and, way down on that list, disruption of our sporting norms.

The times I caught myself remembering that the noise I was hearing wasn’t real. Or at least it wasn’t coming from fans inside the ballpark. It was pre-recorded, piped in, meant to provide a sense of normalcy to players and a TV audience – but only achieving that goal if we don’t think too hard.

Everything with a soft focus.

I tried the radio for a couple innings, and that seemed to be the most normal of all – until a hitter sprayed a foul ball into the stands, and Dan Gladden instinctively referred to it as a souvenir.

For whom? Twins PR guru Dustin Morse, who is on a quest to recover all the home run balls that normally would have been snagged by fans (a fun bit of levity, but also a reminder of what we’ve lost)?

Perhaps the moment that brought it all home: Sunday’s seventh inning stretch, with the Twins comfortably ahead, and God Bless America blasting through a stadium filled with only players and the cardboard cutouts of fans who would normally be there.

Watching and listening to the Twins in 2020: It is strange and nice. Weird and comforting. A distraction and a reminder.

Waking up Monday morning, the instinct was to look at the standings: The Twins are tied atop the AL Central at 2-1 with Cleveland and Detroit … whoa, strange, nobody in the majors is either winless or undefeated after most have played just three games.

But even an opening weekend that went off mostly without a hitch for baseball was quickly brought back to a different reality with news of the Marlins having 11 players test positive for COVID-19. Their game against the Orioles on Monday? Postponed. The Phillies, who just played the Marlins? Their game against the Yankees has been postponed.

The thing that was inevitable and which nobody really wanted to think about has happened with 5% of the season in the books.

Everything precarious about even a 60-game season (plus expanded playoffs!) came back to the forefront. Oh, and the Blue Jays didn’t even know exactly where they would play their home games by the time the season started. The plan now: Buffalo, but not for a couple weeks while they scramble to get that stadium Major League-ready.

I’d cue up the South Park song “Blame Canada,” but that’s the wrong country to blame. I wouldn’t want U.S. ballplayers coming into my country, either.

Amid this swirl, the Twins are preparing for their home opener Tuesday. If you are experiencing conflicted emotions right now – excitement for a season with tremendous promise, mixed with a nervous nagging feeling that none of this should be happening and everything should be shut down, combined with a sadness that you can’t be there in person on what looks like a glorious night, helped by the thought that at least you can see it on TV – you are not alone.

It has always required a certain degree of separation from realities of life to ascribe tremendous meaning to sports. It’s hardly as though the world was perfect a year ago as the Twins won 101 games. There was disease. There was poverty. Countless things happening just beyond the veil.

But watching the Twins and sports in general right now just feels even more complicated, with the escape and the trap part of the same visible hole.

Now more than ever, your reality depends on how you use your illusion.

Why do oddsmakers list Vikings as a favorite to land Dak Prescott in 2021?

Multiple online oddsmakers have the Vikings as one of the leading contenders to land quarterback Dak Prescott on their roster for the 2021 season, and since I can’t quite shake the “whaaaaaaat?” reaction I have to such a thing I decided to try to shake loose possible reasons why.

*These online sites know something we — and by we, I include plugged-in Star Tribune Vikings writers Ben Goessling and Andrew Krammer — don’t know when they list the Vikings at 8 to 1 odds, tied for third with the Bears and just behind the Colts (6 to 1) and Jaguars (7 to 1) as Prescott’s most likely landing spot.

Prescott is at odds with his current team, the Cowboys, after the sides failed to hammer out a long-term extension. He will play 2020 for Dallas on the franchise tag, making a robust $31.4 million.

As Goessling and Krammer noted to varying degrees on a podcast earlier this offseason, current Vikings QB Kirk Cousins is likely here for a while after signing an extension. Even though his new deal does not include a no-trade clause it would cost them a $20 million cap hit to trade him after the 2020 season — a year that would have to be a complete disaster, one would imagine, to even entertain such a thing. A trade after the 2021 season, at a $10 million cap penalty, is somewhat more feasible. But the Prescott question is for the 2021 season.

And really: None of this makes much sense at all when you consider Cousins was quite good in 2019 and ranked higher (No. 6) than Prescott (No. 10) in Pro Football Focus’ QB rankings.

*The online sites are looking for publicity during a time when betting action has been painfully slow because of the sports shutdown. Ah, now we might be cooking. Now let’s go a step further.

*Only 18 teams are listed as candidates to have Prescott on their Week 1 roster in 2021, and all of them are listed between 6 to 1 and 25 to 1 odds. That establishes that there’s not really a huge front-runner. It could be anyone!

More specifically, though, you can’t bet on the most likely team: Dallas. The Cowboys aren’t listed. They hold a decent amount of leverage and can have Prescott play on the franchise tag again in 2021.

When the dust settles, it seems likely Prescott will still be in Dallas in 2021. And everyone suckered into a prop bet — whether they’re frustrated Dallas fans or optimistic fans of another team listed — will be left holding a losing ticket.

How often NFL tests for coronavirus could be $100 million question

As the NFL lurches toward the start of training camp, probably later this month, very few specifics are known regarding exactly how the league plans to pull off a season in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

For all the talk that the NFL had the most time of all leagues to figure out a plan given that it had just entered its offseason when the full weight of COVID-19 reached the U.S. in March, here we are more than four months later and with the clock ticking a lot faster.

Texans star defensive end J.J. Watt laid out the issues that still have yet to be addressed Thursday on Twitter, framing them as “a few things I’ve learned being on four NFLPA calls in the last two weeks with hundreds of other players. Keep in mind our rookies are scheduled to report in 48 hours.”

Watt wrote that players want to play — he began and ended his list with that — and that they want to be safe. But he also said huge questions remain about what camp will look like, how many preseason games there are going to be, what the impact of a positive test would be on numerous levels or even how often players are going to be tested.

The last point is a big one in a sport where social distancing is wholly unnatural as hard-breathing players line up inches away from each other several dozen times a game. The players’ union said Thursday that 72 NFL players have already tested positive for COVID-19 in the lead-up to camps starting.

ESPN reported a couple weeks ago that players want daily testing for themselves and team personnel during camp, while the proposal at the time was for every-other-day testing. Per Watt’s tweet, that still hasn’t been resolved.

Why? Well, there are certainly optics and logistics at play given the volume of testing required. There is a concern among some that the recent spike in cases across the U.S. is already straining both the capacity and timeliness of test results. Add in all the testing required from all the sports leagues resuming, and it adds to that burden.

But perhaps the bigger issue is money. If the NFL decided to do the maximum amount of testing across its players, coaches and other team personnel, it would be quite expensive.

How expensive? Well, we don’t know for sure. But we can do some rough math.

First, the NHL said the cost of each test it plans to run during the restart is $125. The NFL might have a different rate or deal depending on volume and what lab(s) it chooses, but let’s use $125 a test as a good and known ballpark figure.

Now let’s say each NFL team needs to test 150 people. That includes players, obviously, but also coaches, front office personnel, media relations staff and anyone else who comes into even semi-regular contact with players — which, if you’ve ever been at an NFL practice or camp, is a lot. The Vikings, for example, will have a 53-man active roster, up to another 12 players on the practice squad and 23 coaches this season. That’s 88 tests right there. Maybe 150 is too high during the regular season. It might be too low during camp when more players are involved. But let’s use it, again, as a ballpark figure.

Now let’s say every team does daily testing for the duration of the season — starting with training camp later this month and running through at least the end of the regular season. That’s a little over five months, from late July through early January, or about 160 days.

$125 per test, multiplied by 150 people, multiplied by 160 days, multiplied by 32 teams is …

$96 million.

Add in the postseason, even with a reduced number of teams, and we’re talking more than $100 million (and more than 800,000 tests, by the way) in this hypothetical, estimated scenario.

Now, that works out to about $3 million per team. Maybe that seems like a small price to pay for maximizing the effort to minimize impact and spread of the virus.

But if you cut that number in half by doing testing every other day, the ballpark math comes out to a league-wide savings of $50 million-plus during a year when finances are already in disarray because of the massive loss of ticket revenue.

It will be interesting to see what the NFL and players ultimately agree upon — if, that is, they agree at all.

NCAA makes it clear: football running out of time to save season

In perhaps the most sobering picture yet of where things stand for fall college sports, the NCAA on Thursday released a series of guidelines for a potential return-to-competition amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Amid all the protocols and possibilities, such as daily health checks and testing within 72 hours of competition in some sports, were some words that should strike fear in — or, hopefully, spur to action — those who care about the safety of our country and the reward of college football.

“Any recommendation on a pathway toward a safe return to sport will depend on the national trajectory of COVID-19 spread,” Brian Hainline, NCAA chief medical officer, said in a news release on the NCAA web site. “The idea of sport resocialization is predicated on a scenario of reduced or flattened infection rates.”

Those trendlines have been going in the wrong direction lately — something acknowledged again, bluntly, by the NCAA in a graph accompanying a tweet on the subject.

There are two key lines: The one showing a steep upward trend of confirmed cases per 1 million U.S. residents on average over the last seven days (about 700, per the graph) and the gradual downward slope of confirmed cases that the NCAA labeled “where we thought we’d be,” which would be about half of where we are now and going down instead of up.

For an extra splash of cold water, here is what NCAA President Mark Emmert had to say in the release:

“When we made the extremely difficult decision to cancel last spring’s championships it was because there was simply no way to conduct them safely,” Emmert said. “This document lays out the advice of health care professionals as to how to resume college sports if we can achieve an environment where COVID-19 rates are manageable. Today, sadly, the data point in the wrong direction. If there is to be college sports in the fall, we need to get a much better handle on the pandemic.”

It should come as no surprise to anyone who has been following the virus in recent weeks.  Hot spots are developing all over the country — and particularly in regions where college football is king, as noted by Star Tribune sports editor Chris Carr when pointing toward a New York Times graphic.

Even with conferences punting on nonconference games to buy some time, college football basically has two months until the start of its regular season. Given that planning and decisions on whether or not to play will need to be made somewhat in advance of a mid-September start date, there is precious little time — maybe a handful of weeks — for the trend to change and college sports to even have a chance of being played in the fall.

Getting a better handle on the virus should be a priority for a million public health reasons above and beyond college football, but if this threat is what it takes to achieve better distancing and near-universal masking (at least, um, outside of Georgia), then so be it. A win is a win.

And it should be a simple path to victory. Other countries have done it, as that NCAA graph also shows. CDC Director Robert Redfield said it just this week: “If we could get everybody to wear a mask right now, I really think in the next four, six, eight weeks, we could bring this epidemic under control.”

Otherwise, be prepared for a fall full of consequences — one of which very much looks like it would be a lost season of college sports.

Johnny Manziel, Andrew Wiggins and other times I was ‘hacked’ on Twitter

It was a nightmarish evening Wednesday for us lofty folks who are verified on Twitter and get to show off that status with the social media currency of a check mark next to our names.

Owing to a breach on the site during which several high-profile verified accounts were hacked, Twitter shut down the tweeting ability of ALL verified accounts for a few hours (though we could still retweet. At least we could still do that).

It proved to be a wise move. Even my account, usually the home for dad jokes, kid updates, jumpsuit enthusiasm (and sports) was not spared. Yes, everyone: I was hacked.

These particularly clever hackers had a strange mission, but they accomplished it beautifully: Back-dating tweets onto my timeline attributed to me to make it look like I had brandished some terribly wrong sports opinions over the years.

I’ve only begun to uncover the damage done during the breach, but I have at least managed to find five key instances so far.

*The hackers seemed to have a particular affinity for making it look like I was a huge proponent of the Vikings drafting Johnny Manziel in 2014.

Asserting he will be a better pro than Derek Carr or Teddy Bridgewater? Preposterous.

Making it sound like I would fight anyone who didn’t think Manziel would be a great NFL quarterback? The stuff of psychopaths who clearly have no regard for my reputation.

Tweeting a link and manufacturing an entire blog post after the Vikings took Bridgewater instead of Manziel? Have to admit I’m impressed, but still pretty steamed.

It’s the kind of stuff that I hope pushes my case to the top of the list of any resulting federal investigation.

*The hackers seemed to have a real affinity for 2014 because they also inserted into my timeline an opinion that perhaps Andrew Wiggins — who had yet to play an NBA game — was already better than Klay Thompson.

This is how you know I was hacked. I mean, that’s the sort of thing nobody would even dream of thinking or typing in real-time, and its presence six years later should be studied closely for its clear violation of Twitter terms of use as well as the space-time continuum.

*The hackers tried to make it look like I was all-in on the idea that Adrian Peterson would be traded in 2015.

They even went so far as to create phony pictures — obviously deepfakes if you look closely — of Sid Hartman and I after I allegedly (in the fantasy world of whomever was doing this damage to my account) lost a $1 bet about that very subject.

I know it looks like me. I know it looks like my handwriting. That’s what makes all of this even scarier.

*In perhaps the creepiest breach of all, the hackers used Twitter to link to my Instagram account — a two-for-one — to show me wearing a pair of obscenely short shots that ostensibly, according to their half-baked theory, came after I made a wager that Tarvaris Jackson would lead the Vikings to a playoff win over the Eagles in 2008.

I mean, I let my kids see my Instagram page. They shouldn’t have to look at things like that. Disgusting.

*And finally, a favorite target of the hackers apparently was making it seem like I have a weakness for thinking the Timberwolves are on the verge of a breakthrough after wildly mistaking a small sample size of success for a trend.

The instances of these types of tweets are dotted all throughout the past decade of the manufactured, fictional timeline they would have you believe really represents my true self. Just one example: A tweet from March 10, 2017, asking if the Wolves had turned a corner.

They were 27-37 at the time, following a respectable 13-9 stretch, but their schedule was about to stiffen while their resolve was about to weaken as they drifted out of any sort of contention. All rational people could see that, and indeed that’s what happened en route to a 4-14 record over the final 18 games.

But that’s not what the hackers would have you believe. They want you to believe that I am prone to letting wishful thinking drown out logic.

I can only hope that Wednesday’s long nightmare is not repeated, that the hackers are brought to swift justice and that nobody dares to do this again — particularly not with any trumped-up opinions about the Twins and Mike Pelfrey.

Kirill Kaprizov, Ricky Rubio and the power of anticipation

Kirill Kaprizov is expected to be introduced — such as that is these days — to local media in the near future as a full-fledged member of the Minnesota Wild. On Monday, five years after the Wild drafted the Russian star, he signed with Minnesota.

And for all the on-ice comparisons that can be made to Kaprizov, who led the Kontinental Hockey League in goals each of the last two seasons, the one that might feel most relevant for fans across Minnesota sports is from a different sport.

Ricky Rubio.

The Spanish point guard was drafted by the Timberwolves in 2009, but he didn’t arrive until two years later in June 2011. That two-year gap (which felt like five) allowed Wolves fans the time to let their imaginations run wild while scouring overseas highlights for any and all evidence that Rubio was going to save the franchise.

Kaprizov has an edge in age upon arrival (23 vs. 20) and by leading the KHL in goals he gains the upper hand in accomplishment over Rubio as well.

But the circumstances are still quite similar. Rubio was hailed as a savior for a Wolves franchise that had lacked both dynamic playmaking and personality as it bumbled through disappointing seasons. And he was a point guard, a position the Wolves had been searching to fill permanently almost from the outset of their existence.

You could insert Kaprizov and Wild into that above paragraph, change a few words (like “pure goal scorer” for “point guard”) and tell pretty much the same story.

They also both arrived at very strange times. Rubio came in late June, just a handful of days before an NBA lockout that ended up lasting five months and truncated the 2011-12 season. Nine years later, Kaprizov is joining the Wild … but he can’t play for them during the coronavirus-created restart, and the forecast for the 2020-21 season is still clouded by the virus as well.

In both cases, the anticipation that built while waiting for the player’s arrival might have created unfair expectations or clouded the lens through which we view that player.

Rubio was loved for everything he was during his time with the Timberwolves, but he was equally (at least) dissected and blamed for everything he was not. The Wolves, with other roster flaws exposed while playing in the brutal Western Conference, never made the playoffs during his six seasons in Minnesota.

Kaprizov will join a Wild team with a different type of baggage. Assuming the Wild doesn’t go on some sort of lengthy run during the restart, Kaprizov will be viewed as the player who could finally help Minnesota get over the postseason hump. The playoffs often about premium goal-scoring talent, and Kaprizov appears to have that.

That Rubio’s Wolves fell short of fans’ hopes and dreams has no bearing on how Kaprizov and the Wild will fare, but it is a reminder: Anticipation is fun, but reality tends to be more complicated than the binary of absolute success or failure.

If Kaprizov is ultimately remembered for what he accomplished instead of what he didn’t accomplish, it will at least be a victory in one regard.

Dodgers clubhouse attendant gets chance to play, is hero we need

Amid the constant drumbeat of coronavirus-related news in this strange return-to-sports time, one related side story has emerged in a genuinely endearing way.

As MLB teams scramble to field enough players to hold scrimmages during “Summer Camp,” the accelerated ramp-up to next week’s start of the truncated 60-game season, some unlikely heroes have emerged.

My favorite: Dodgers clubhouse attendant Francisco “Chico” Herrera.

He’s also the favorite of many Dodgers fans. Herrera has been playing the outfield for the shorthanded Dodgers. He’s been with the team since 2008 as a clubhouse attendant but hasn’t played competitive baseball since playing some college ball a decade ago.

On Sunday, Herrera was playing left field. Established Dodgers player Chris Taylor was on first, when a long fly ball was hit Herrera’s way. Taylor, who is fast enough to have swiped 17 bases a couple seasons ago, thought he would try to tag up and make it to second.

Bad idea. Don’t run on Chico.

Taylor was out by at least 10 feet after Herrera’s laser throw from left was on the money, on a line to second base. The best part? There’s video. From multiple angles, including one slo-mo.

“It’s been surreal,” Herrera, 30, told the Los Angeles Times. “The guys are loving it and I’m just going out there and having fun.”

He hasn’t had a turn at bat yet — and won’t, if manager Dave Roberts stays true to his word. That hasn’t stopped teammates from lobbying for it. Justin Turner wore a “Let Chico Hit” shirt at camp recently.

It’s a story akin to emergency goalies being used in actual NHL games. And I’m here for it.

Washington nickname change: A surprise that reveals a racist truth

Washington D.C.’s NFL team announced Monday that it is getting rid of its offensive and racist Redskins nickname – a move that feels entirely in the moment, entirely decades too late and entirely like it would never happen, all at the same time.

The moment, of course, is a collective and wholly necessary re-evaluation of race, history and privilege being undertaken in this country (and really this world) – much of it touched off after the Memorial Day killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Since the economy is often a driver when it comes to elevating a collective consciousness beyond mere thought, this particular moment also came to bear with hundreds of billions of dollars at stake and Washington’s football organization under pressure to act.

The timing? Well, I remember circulating a petition – along with my longtime best friend, who is Native American – while we were in junior high school that asked for support in changing the “Redskins” nickname of Grand Forks Central, the high school which we were going to attend in a couple years.

I’m fairly sure we created the petition on our own, on a typewriter, and went door-to-door asking people to sign. I’m not entirely sure what we did with the signatures or how many we got. I remember one woman calling me “Paleface.” And I remember that a couple years later Grand Forks Central did, in fact, change the nickname – eventually to Knights.

That was more than a quarter-century ago. There was plenty of resistance, plenty of false equivalence, plenty of insistence that the nickname was an honor and not a slur. And yes, there were a lot of “Redskins Forever” shirts and caps made, many of which are probably now gathering dust in Grand Forks basements — the same ones, perhaps, that also still contain remnants of the University of North Dakota’s Fight Sioux logo and nickname, retired eight years ago.

So it is absurd to think a process undertaken a generation ago by a high school in a state not known for its bastion of liberal viewpoints is now just being started by the most visible professional sports team in our nation’s capital.

But here we are: At a place we so obviously should have arrived a long time ago but that which team owner Daniel Snyder promised just seven years ago would NEVER happen.

Should an organization get to take a victory lap for finally doing the right thing decades too late after being backed into a financial corner? Nope.

We can acknowledge this is better than not doing it. That’s about it. But hold your applause, and feel free to keep your arms folded.

Because we also had better acknowledge this: A lot of us accepted the Redskins nickname as part of the NFL, even if it made us uncomfortable. And in that way, a lot of us are complicit. I know I’ve held my nose and used it in things I’ve written or said – accepting the status quo. And I sure never circulated or signed any petitions to get rid of it, even if that’s what I believed was right.

Racism is not merely the problem of the afflicted or the truly vile. It persists when those of us who know better and believe we think better don’t speak and act against it. And in that way it is everyone’s problem.

Along those lines, gestures like toppling statues and removing nicknames are notable, but they are not nearly enough. This is a signpost, not an endpoint when it comes to the work that must be done – and undone – as all of us in positions of privilege grapple with the world around us that has largely been created for our benefit and with our implied consent.

Racism is so ingrained in society that it often masquerades as normal. More of us need to be more consistent and true allies in the fight against it – recognizing that racism is not a moment but a system.

The fact that Washington changing its racist nickname in 2020 still registers as a surprise and a major event should tell us a lot about how long the journey ahead still is.

For Minnesotan on Harvard’s football team, future is suddenly murky

When Eric Wilson left the field Nov. 23, 2019, after his Harvard football team had lost a double-overtime game to rival Yale in the season finale, he had no way of knowing that it might be his final game for the Crimson.

The first human cases of COVID-19 were still weeks away from being detected. The full-on pandemic caused by the virus was months away from triggering the cancellation of U.S. sports from preps to colleges to pros.

Wilson, who grew up in suburban Minnetrista and played high school football at Benilde-St. Margaret’s, earned second-team Ivy League honors as an offensive lineman as a junior in 2019. He imagined building on that year as a senior – culminating in a rematch with Yale, this time on Harvard’s campus almost a year to the day after the heartbreaking loss.

Instead, Wilson was among the first group of athletes to experience for certain the cold reality that the impact of COVID-19 is far from over. Amid the backdrop of major U.S. pro leagues busying themselves with plans to resume play this summer even as coronavirus cases surge nationally, the Ivy League on Wednesday became the first Division I conference to postpone all sports competition until at least January – a decision that impacts a number of fall and winter sports, with football at the forefront.

“A lot of us as players expected to not have a season,” Wilson said in a phone interview Thursday from his home in Minnetrista, where he has been since March after Harvard moved spring classes online. “But to definitively hear it … confirmed what we were all worried about and made things pretty sketchy for the future.”

Indeed, as is often the case in these times, even a dose of clarity tends to bring on a flurry of other questions and decisions. Wilson is one of several Minnesota natives on Ivy League rosters across a number of sports.

The Ivy League’s announcement left the door open for fall sports to potentially be played in the spring, though Princeton football coach Bob Surace told The New York Times that a virus vaccine and better treatments for those with the illness would need to be in place for that to be considered.

Wilson said some players are considering their enrollment options for fall – a semester in which classes will be conducted online-only, Harvard recently announced. Another option possibly in play for Wilson: graduating in the spring and playing another season as a grad transfer at a different school in 2021.

Or maybe Nov. 23, 2019 was the end of Wilson’s college football career.

“I would do anything to have another season with my current class, but with so much uncertainty with what’s going on it’s hard to know what’s the right decision,” Wilson said.

That said, football is hardly the only factor in a complicated decision.

“We as football players – I don’t want to speak for us in total – but I went there because of the history of football program but also be challenged academically,” Wilson said. “We don’t go to Harvard Lite. You go there facing the same challenges of other students.”

Players have essentially been told that the future is unclear – which Wilson actually appreciates within the context of other options. If other conferences end up following the Ivy League’s lead – which is what happened in March when it was at the forefront of canceling it postseason basketball tournament – it will have been better to know ahead of time, he said.

“There’s so much uncertainty with other conferences and programs,” Wilson said. “I honestly feel bad for kids who are training hard and moving into dorms on other campuses and still could have their seasons canceled.”

Wilson has applied that sort of perspective to his overall framing of the last four months. While describing himself as not usually “super optimistic,” Wilson said he has challenged himself to think positively, keep in touch with teammates, cherish added family time, make the most of his remote coursework in psychology and train as best he can.

“I think James Lee, one of my teammates, put it best. He was just saying that we can get upset and think about all these possible solutions, but you can’t forget there’s a pandemic going on right now,” Wilson said. “I’ve had a few classmates directly affected, with their parents passing. In that moment you gain a sense of the bigger picture.”