Sun Bowl Association Makes The Right Call
When news broke yesterday afternoon that the Tony The Tiger Sun Bowl would be canceled, it caught El Pasoans by surprise. The game, scheduled for December 31st was to pit a team from the ACC against a team from the Pac-12. Although eight other bowls had been canceled because of COVID, the Tony The Tiger Sun Bowl was still a go, despite the high number of hospitalizations and cases in the El Paso area. Despite the economic impact the football game has on the Sun City, the decision to call off the Tony The Tiger Sun Bowl is the right one.
The number of daily positive COVID-19 cases in El Paso has been under 1,000 since November 24th. However, there are still more than 37,000 active cases in the city and sporting events have not been played in front of fans since the last Locomotive FC home playoff game in mid-October. UTEP is currently playing basketball games in an empty Don Haskins Center. Even if the Tony The Tiger Sun Bowl was held with fans in attendance, there would probably be no more than five or six thousand in the Sun Bowl. Most of them would be locals and not out-of-towners, which hurts the tourism dollars.
There is also the possibility that both teams could be in El Paso for the festivities and then a series of positive tests on either or both clubs would jeopardize the game. That is exactly what happened to UTEP this past weekend in Houston as they were preparing to play Rice. Sun Bowl officials would not want the Tony The Tiger Sun Bowl to be canceled last minute, especially with their longtime national television partner CBS set to air the game.
The Sun Bowl has never been canceled since its inception in 1935. It joins the Fenway, Holiday, Pinstripe, and Redbox bowl, who all had tie-ins to the ACC and Pac-12. It is also was the third major Sun Bowl Association event to be canceled, joining the Sun Bowl All-America Golf Classic and the Weststar Bank Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational (Oscar Leeser's Hyundai of El Paso Sun Bowl Parade was virtual). As someone who has covered every Sun Bowl game as a member of the media since 1994, I am disappointed that the 87th annual contest will have to wait a year. However, I completely understand the decision and know that it is the correct call in a sports year filed with complete chaos.