Updated: Aug 7
"I want to see college football. The best way for that to occur is for us all to realize is that wearing a mask, as irritating as that can be—and I promise I hate it more than anyone watching—is critical."
—Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves after issuing statewide mask mandate.
Since March 13 I have missed several family birthdays, every Sunday of church, virtually all celebration of holidays and, except for a couple of loosely organized cookouts with four or five family members and one at a neighbor friend’s house where we were socially distanced, we’re pretty much locked down. So we’re a bit serious about this.
I was reminded of that this week when Ocala ratified a semi- mandatory mask ordinance. It also hit me when I was asked to help eulogize my friend Carey McDonald, who passed away at 95 after a long illness. Carey has been a lifelong force and strong advocate/coach of high school sports on a national level. He and I have been friends for more than 60 years. Sadly when his son Dale, the mayor of Maitland, asked me to speak over Carey at a small gathering Saturday in Ocala’s First Methodist Church, I had to decline. I’ve even had to skip a funeral of a cousin in recent weeks. Faith and health above all. But it's sad. And it hurts.
“Oh nooooo! Not another commentary on health care!” some of you no doubt are saying. Nope. Hear me out. Don’t judge. This is a no-spin political zone. And I’m tired of arguing political viewpoints and health issues. Do what you must do, but please be considerate.
As for the semi-quarantine, is it a bit of an overreaction? Perhaps. But we have chosen not to be overly concerned with what people think and just pray that we have the resolve to do the right thing.
This is not going to be yet another one of those columns or forums where I try and sway you over to my way of thinking, or vice-versa. There WILL be sports discussed here today and nowhere will you find the “V” word. At the same time, life has changed for us all. These are some of the ways it has changed ours. This is our reality for now.
To our friends and my professional colleagues, The Martins have become Casper the Ghosts. It’s been something like 145 days since we first started our self-semi-quarantine. Punxsutawney Phil has nothing on us in the Martin Household.
And that’s OK. We’re good with our decision not to tempt the fates. We believe health protocols override political agendas. So we stay home, wear masks when we go out for an hour of the week and stay socially distanced on those rare occasions when family or friends come to visit. Even before the ordinance was passed we did this. Yet we remain vulnerable.
Don’t feel story for me. I’m one of the blessed ones. I’ve been working at home for almost 10 years. For three years I’ve been streaming Buddy Martin Show out of my home four nights a week. It almost reminds me of my CB Radio Days in St. Petersburg (see the Don Addis cartoon), which I once did a story on for the St. Petersburg (Now Tampa Bay)Times.
These days I even edit the magazine at GatorBaitMedia.com from the same office. As I admitted to my wife Joni the other day, “Aside from our Friday night dinners with friends, church on Sunday, your bridge group and maybe a lunch out once a week, we’ve not missed out and our lives really haven’t changed all that much. What could be better than being Home Alone with you?”
It has been a very busy, productive 144 days. Broadcasting over 50 versions of The Buddy Martin Show. Originating a podcast with Urban Meyer that will be forthcoming in a few weeks. (See below) Starting and cancelling a book with two coaches. All the while reaching a one-year anniversary of for owning and operating GatorBaitMedia.com. And coming up: Celebrating well over a half century of marraige Aug. 12.
Remember, though, we haven’t missed a football game – yet! Just SEC Media Days.
Many years ago in 1952 a country boy from North Carolina recorded a brilliant satire called “What It Was Was Football.”
Andy Griffith’s hit comedy record was described by one writer thusly: “The monologue was from the perspective of a country bumpkin, who witnesses his first football game.”
Today, we need Andy around to do a sequel almost 70 years later: “What it IS IS football.” We’re starting all over this year. It’s a different game in a different time. Even the conferences are not scheduling the same and have different opening dates. But in a way, it’s new and exciting, and some of the changes will be for the better. Even permanent.
As listeners to my show know, I have been "Buddy One Note" for providing consumers with a better product by getting rid of Cupcake Games, shortening the season, expanding the playoffs, improving the stadium experience and tightening up budgets with trimming of overspending on recruiting, bloated coaching staffs and travel. So some good can still come out of this – maybe.
With health care costs expanding, even the rich SEC Schools must sharpen their pencils to offset those expenses and the loss of ticket revenue. And as for improving the stadium experience, there will now be plenty of room around your seats and no long lines at the restrooms or beer taps.
I have no crystal ball, but I did agree with the aggressive way Greg Sankey and the SEC went to an all-league only, 10-game schedule. Of course, there is also the possibility it could all shut down in a week. But contingency plans were imperative. Sankey did it right.
Our lives have been altered forever, but not all of it is bad.
Coming soon: The chance to talk with one of the best minds in college football every week is a huge opportunity for me and I am very excited by the prospects of sharing the mic with Urban Meyer on The Urban Meyer & Buddy Martin Podcast: “The Best Friday in Football”:
Celebrating college football with shared insights and intelligent conversation by and about people with a common appreciation and passion for the tradition and splendor of America’s greatest game.
Check in later, but look for it where you normally get your podcast.