Duke’s Trainer Okay discusses his issues whilst enjoying throughout an epidemic

The Fayetteville Observer

It feels bizarre, doesn’t it? Take a look at the entrance web page and spot the document numbers of American citizens demise day-to-day from COVID-19, the document numbers of other people checking out sure, the coronavirus spinning wildly out of keep an eye on in virtually each and every state, after which take a look at the sports activities web page. See the lengths we’re prepared to head, to not curb the virus in our nation however to ensure our faculties are enjoying a faculty basketball season that nature is attempting so not easy to prevent.

Feels bizarre, bordering on incorrect.

Is it incorrect? I don’t have that resolution, and if I claimed another way you’d want to forestall studying presently, as a result of obviously I’d be mendacity. There’s no singular resolution, not anything black-and-white to mention based on all this grey. May we pause the 2020-21 faculty basketball season nowadays and be ok with that call? Positive lets. Will we proceed the season — and it’s proceeding, for alternatively lengthy it lasts — and be ok with that?

Yeah, OK. For now.

You’ll see the way in which I’m leaning. I’m no longer there, however on a daily basis one thing occurs to make me marvel. It occurs at a basketball enviornment in Tallahassee, Florida, and at faculties in Durham, North Carolina, and Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

And it occurs in a clinic room right here in central Indiana. My clinic room.

Plexiglass to stay you out

Did you spot Indiana’s basketball recreation Wednesday evening at Florida State? Understand the tall partitions of plexiglass surrounding the courtroom at FSU’s Tucker Middle? It felt like observing animals in a cage, and I’m no longer speaking in regards to the avid gamers.

I’m speaking in regards to the fanatics.

The plexiglass wasn’t there to give protection to fanatics from avid gamers, however vice versa. That’s how a long way Florida State has long gone no longer simply to play video games, however to play them in an enviornment with 1000’s of paying consumers throughout a coronavirus pandemic that has killed greater than 50 Florida citizens an afternoon since Nov. nine, in a state whose governor walks and talks and governs like a cardboard cutout, considering and feeling not anything however those phrases over and over again:

Will have to … get … re-elected…

In order that they ring the courtroom in plexiglass to give protection to the avid gamers from us, letting fanatics acquire and infect each and every different, for the reason that most effective other people we appear intent on protective from the virus at the moment are the athletes.

As a father of youngsters that age, as somebody who counts a handful of avid gamers and coaches as literal, precise buddies, I need the ones children safe. You’re no longer studying that we care an excessive amount of in regards to the protection and well-being of hard-working faculty athletes.

You’re studying dismay, I suppose, on the realization that with regards to the unfold of COVID-19, this nation cares extra about athletes than everybody else. Sports activities should move on, proper?

A few of you, the card cutouts, are sneering: You hate sports activities! It’s like this: If an individual in reality and really believes that two-and-two equals 5, and that the coronavirus will magically disappear after the election, and that I hate sports activities … properly, have at it. Not anything anyone can say to persuade you another way.

For the remainder of you, step inside of my clinic room. Hello, this can be a clinic. They’re going to atypical lengths to make it OK. You’ll be secure right here. Smartly, no. In reality they aren’t. Because of this, you received’t be.

As a result of this isn’t a basketball enviornment. It’s just a clinic. You’re by yourself right here.

Some nurses are not examined — ever

Just right information, unhealthy information, learn this subsequent sentence alternatively you need: I’m OK. It used to be a regimen process, a mix of upkeep and preventative care — like checking your car’s antifreeze for the wintry weather — and my automobile looked at positive.

The process used to be Thursday afternoon. Chatting with my two nurses, simply passing the time, I requested one how continuously she were given examined for the virus. Will have to be day-to-day, yeah?

“Oh honey,” she stated. “I haven’t been examined since Would possibly.”

Yikes, however that’s only one individual. Slipped in the course of the cracks, perhaps — it’s a big clinic. So now I’m being wheeled out of my room, towards the go out, towards my experience house, and asking every other nurse: When used to be your ultimate coronavirus take a look at?

“I haven’t been examined,” she stated.

I’m looking for explanation: Now not as soon as? Now not ever?

Now not ever, she stated.

I’m telling her how atypical this is — how incorrect it’s — and that I be aware of sports activities greater than the common endure, and that athletes are examined day-to-day so they may be able to play for our leisure.

Now she’s looking for explanation: “They take a look at day-to-day?”

Just about, I inform her.

“Smartly, I don’t know the way to really feel about that,” she stated. “They instructed us we will’t manage to pay for to check if we don’t have signs.”

My flip: So any nurse, any physician, any staffer on this clinic — you might want to be asymptomatic carriers? Sharing COVID-19 with sufferers and no longer understanding it?

“Yeah,” she stated, and it appears she made up our minds the way to really feel about athletes being examined ceaselessly, whilst our frontline heroes aren’t being examined in any respect.

“That makes me indignant,” she stated.

Similar right here. 

Trainer Okay vs. Nate Oats

Previous this week, after No. 11 Duke’s loss to No. nine Illinois, Duke trainer Mike Krzyzewski puzzled aloud in regards to the sanity of what we’re doing.

“You might have 2,000 deaths an afternoon,” he stated Tuesday, a host that rose to a few,000 deaths nationally Wednesday and once more Thursday. “You might have 200,000 (new day-to-day) circumstances. Persons are announcing the following six weeks are going be the worst. To me, it’s already beautiful unhealthy.

“At the different facet of it, there are those vaccines which are popping out. Through the tip of the month, 20 million vaccine pictures can be given. Through the tip of January or in February, every other 100 million. Will have to we no longer think again that? See simply what can be very best?”

He persevered.

“Glance, I simply were given my butt beat through so much. Anything else I say, somebody can say, ‘He’s announcing that as a result of he were given his butt beat.’ Do I feel issues must be accomplished a bit of bit other? I imply, yeah. A large number of children aren’t going in an effort to move house for Christmas. It’s almost certainly a time after they must, for psychological well being. However we’re simply plowing thru this.”

Then do something positive about it, Trainer Okay. That’s what I used to be considering. You’re in keep an eye on of your video games: Each trainer, president and athletic director at each and every college. The NCAA doesn’t have the facility to close down regular-season video games, most effective the NCAA event. In the event you in reality care, Trainer Okay, do one thing.

After which he did. Thursday, Duke introduced it would not play its ultimate 3 nonconference video games. Trainer Okay stated his avid gamers had to move house for the vacations.

Duke trainer Mike Krzyzewski (Photograph: Rob Kinnan, USA TODAY Sports activities)

We see faculty basketball avid gamers as larger-than-life superheroes, TV stars, long term millionaires. And a few are. However they are all children, and a few can deal with what we’re doing to them — what we’re asking them to do for us — higher than others.

There used to be pushback to Trainer Okay, as a result of path there used to be. Two and two, you already know? To a few other people, it is going to at all times equivalent 5. Like the coach at Alabama, Nate Oats, who wisecracked:

“Do you think if Coach K hadn’t lost the two nonconference games at home he’d still be saying that?” 

And then Oats smiled, like someone who had all the answers. And he does: Two and two is five. You can’t tell Oats otherwise. Omniscient, that guy.

Me, I’m calling coaches about what Coach K had said, and they’re practically shouting in agreement. They said things I’d never heard, even considered, like this:

“It’s chaos. You celebrate having negative tests.”

Imagine: Being tested for something that will change your life immediately and perhaps forever, and sweating out the results. And doing it daily.

Results don’t always come back negative, either. Look around the country. So many positive tests in college basketball that, according to ESPN, roughly 20% of scheduled games have been postponed or canceled. Some teams, like Xavier, have played seven games. Others, like Butler? One game. DePaul hasn’t played yet; every game has been canceled.

Nature is trying to tell us something. So are coaches.

One told me about a player on his team having to quarantine for 10 days and spending those 10 days completely alone. He had to move out of his dorm and into another one, empty except for quarantined kids. This kid, a freshman, was alone on Thanksgiving. His coach tried to bring him Thanksgiving dinner but had to leave it with the dormitory manager, who put it on the floor outside the kid’s room, knocked and walked away.

The coach went outside and saw the kid waving from his window.

What’s better right now? To keep playing the sport that motivates them, defines them, letting basketball players be basketball players and managing whatever fear and loneliness that comes with it?

Or stop playing until we have the virus under some semblance of control, taking away their passion but also taking away the anxiety that comes with it and allowing those kids to be kids and go home for the holidays?

As I’ve said, I don’t have that answer. So much gray here, which is why Coach K was asking the question and Nate Oats, that all-knowing clown, was answering it.

As for me, I waved goodbye to my nurse outside the hospital. She waved back, but there was a look on her face, something unreadable, as she returned to the battle zone, unprotected.

Find IndyStar columnist Gregg Doyel on Twitter at @GreggDoyelStar or at


Display Thumbnails

Display Captions

Ultimate SlideNext Slide