SAN ANTONIO – Someone needs to remind Baylor coach Kim Mulkey that the COVID-19 pandemic is not over yet.
Mulky said Monday night that the NCAA should stop testing for COVID in the men’s and women’s tournaments before their fourth final so that no player runs the risk of being tested and disqualified.
“I don’t think my words will matter,” Molky said. After Baylor lost to Okon 69-67 In Elite Eight. “But … they need to get rid of the COVID testing. Wouldn’t it be a shame that you keep getting tested for COVID and have kids who end up with positive results or something like that and can’t play in Final Four?
“So you just have to forget about testing for COVID and let the four teams playing in each Final fight it out.”
The suggestion that a basketball game, even if it is one in the fourth final or a national title, is more important than the health of a player or coach is as disconcerting as it is ignorant. Molky, of all people, should know better, After she contracted COVID herself in January.
COVID already has it It killed more than 550,000 in the United States alone Over the past year, cases have picked up again after stabilizing for several weeks. Medical experts, not Molky one of them, are warning of the dangers of the new, more contagious variants, urging people to stay vigilant about wearing masks, social distancing, and yes, testing, until more of the country is vaccinated.
Playing both men and women tournaments in loosened states only increases the stakes. Texas has lifted its mask mandate, and while individual companies in San Antonio can still order it, many do not.
Rivercenter Mall, attached to the hotel the NCAA teams are staying in, has no signs requiring or even recommending masks, and few people do. The same is for the Tower of the Americas, which is a tourist attraction down the street from the Alamodome.
The river walkway is filled with tourists, and social distance is non-existent. Many hotels still require masks to be worn indoors, but this is confident that guests will comply with the masks, and anecdotal evidence shows that they have collided or failed.
We are all tired of COVID and the restrictions needed to prevent its spread, and it is becoming very difficult to be vigilant as vaccinations are becoming more common and a return to normal is on the horizon. But Molky’s suggestion that it should no longer be taken seriously is mind-boggling.
It is true that young people are less likely to contract the disease, but to say that they will be fine! Fine! Irresponsible. Or maybe Mulkey forgot about Vanderbilt goalkeeper Demi Washington, who was forced to sit down this season after contracting cardiomyopathy following a bout with the Coronavirus.
And it’s not just the players that Mulki is willing to take risks for the game. Roger Ayers, the referee who was sent home from the NCAA Men’s Championship after testing positive for the COVID virus, finally felt well enough on Monday to take a walk outside, two weeks after he fell ill.
The NCAA has requested a lot of players and coaches to pull out this season, not to mention the men’s and women’s tournaments. The restrictions were cumbersome and the test was uncomfortable. But the proposal to dump it all now, less than a week before the men’s and women’s title matches, is the culmination of irresponsibility.
He should know Mulky better. It’s horrible that she didn’t.
Follow USA TODAY Sports columnist Nancy Armor on Twitternrarmor.