FARGO — There were no fans at U.S. Bank Stadium for the Minnesota Vikings season opener against the Green Bay Packers. Considering the outcome, maybe that was a merciful thing.

North Dakota State's powerhouse Football Championship Subdivision program has one game this fall, essentially an exhibition, and it will be played in a half-full Fargodome.

The University of North Dakota, like many college teams, tapped out on even trying to play a game or three in the fall, preferring to wait on the possibility of a spring season.

Minnesota has no high school football and North Dakota's preps are having games canceled because of COVID-19 outbreaks.

America's favorite sport is a mess, and only those whose lives completely revolve around sports in general and football in specific are trying to act like anything is near normal.

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It is not.

Not even close.

It's a mess.

For that we can blame the person who had the power to rally Americans behind a common cause and he instead chose to downplay the coronavirus because he thought that was the proper path to his re-election.

That would be President Donald Trump.

Considering the overall economic and social damage done by Trump's selfish and purposely incompetent response to the coronavirus, football might seem like a small thing. But for millions it is an important escape and for tens of thousands it is a means to a paycheck.

Trump fumbled it.

He admitted it, on tape, to journalist Bob Woodward. The president knew the severity of the virus in February, knew the dangers to Americans, and chose to downplay it (his own words).

Caught red-handed all these months later, Trump now says he minimized the virus because he didn't want to panic Americans. As if we're a bunch of snowflakes who can't take tough news and rise to the occasion.

No, Trump downplayed the virus because he thought it would magically disappear (his words) and he could win re-election in November. He tried to play Americans for suckers, as usual, and it backfired.

All the president and his sycophants had to do was come up with a coherent national strategy to beat the virus that included testing and contact tracing, strong encouragement for people to follow protocols and wear masks, and speaking frankly with the American people that we are all in this together.

Trump could've said that it will be tough, but if we all sacrifice through summer perhaps by fall things will be closer to normal. Perhaps our children will be back in school, perhaps we can play football and other sports, perhaps we will be traveling and planning our winter vacations.

Perhaps Bison fans could be planning their trips to Frisco, Texas, in January.

Instead, Trump lied because he thought being honest would cost him the election.

Now nearly 200,000 Americans are dead and life still isn't close to being back to normal.

If you're miffed at the mess that is this football season, and many other things, think of that. You know where the blame lies, even if you don't want to admit it publicly.

Readers can reach columnist Mike McFeely at (701) 451-5655