The Rose Bowl Game may be facing a negative public relations situation that is so practical and logical in its key facts they will be forced to make a ruling against their own immediate interests, but likely it’s the right thing to do. 

Political leadership in California has shut down public participation in nearly every event on the state’s calendar, including the Rose Bowl Game, as a result of the global Covid-19 pandemic.

Because of that, each of the two teams invited to play in the College Football Playoff semi-final in Pasadena would play in the bowl of a completely empty stadium, as even parents and family of the players would not be allowed to attend the game.

For Dabo Swinney of Clemson, whose team is likely going to participate and plays on the opposite side of the country, the entire situation is incomprehensible even in a year where very little has been unambiguous.  

“It makes no sense to me to put a bunch of kids on a plane and fly them all the way to California to play in an empty stadium,” Swinney told reporters on Friday. “That makes zero sense.”

Swinney was on the same tack as Notre Dame Fighting Irish head coach Brian Kelly, who made one of the most amazing, and least likely to be followed through on, threats in recent memory. 

Kelly claimed the Irish might not play. If parents of the players aren’t allowed to be in-person spectators at the playoff games. 

“I’m not sure if we’ll play in the playoffs if parents can’t be there,” Kelly said. “Why would we play if parents can’t be there?”

The Rose Bowl is the most iconic game in a sport defined by its traditions, but 2020 has presented special challenges. The game has been played for 104 consecutive seasons, but in 1942, shortly after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and the West Coast was considered to be in danger, the game was moved to Durham, North Carolina for a single season. Something similar may in the end be worked out here.