Canceled Military Bowl affecting more than just fans’ moods

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) – The ECU Pirates were set to play their first bowl game since 2015 Monday, but it’ll just have to wait. Too many players on the Boston College team tested positive for COVID-19, causing them to pull out of the Military Bowl. But it’s not just the fans who had traveled to Annapolis to see the game in person who are devastated, it’s those back at home, and local businesses here in the East.

Businesses owners and Pirate nation all used the word “bummed” to describe the feeling of missing out on this first bowl appearance in more than half a decade.

“Oh, it was definitely a bummer,” said ECU alumna Kate Fisher-Wellman, who was still sporting her Pirate gear in Uptown despite the lack of a game. “ECU hasn’t made it to a bowl game in so long so we were excited to watch them play.”

Local business owners were also really excited for the big game.

“If East Carolina is playing in a bowl game, it’s usually a big deal,” said Tie Breakers owner Brayom Anderson. “I mean we usually get very full, and they stay for the entire game. A lot of business, you know, three or four thousand, five thousand dollars.”

“I feel bad for the guys, you know?” Sup Dogs manager John Huie is torn. “I know they worked hard to get where they were, but you know safety first of course. And I know a lot of people have been out with flu and COVID recently and so I completely understand why they did it.”

Boston College had to forfeit the game with more than 40 players missing from their roster due to COVID-19 and injuries. The Military Bowl Foundation canceled the game Sunday morning, and the teams found out at about 11 a.m.

The Centers for Disease Control reports the omicron variant has now become the dominant strain, accounting for more than 95 percent of current cases in the southeastern United States.

Nearly two years into this pandemic, it’s still tough on businesses. “A lot of business is being lost locally by this game not being played,” Anderson said.

It’s the safe thing to do, but not the fun one.

“And they had a good season too,” said Fisher-Wellman. “Best season we’ve had in a while.”

“I know they worked hard,” Huie said, “but you know they’ll have their time to shine.”

Many of the fans back home in Greenville are eternal optimists, hoping that somehow the game will be rescheduled. It’s not going to happen, but it’s nice to be positive. Maybe next year.

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