How Can Sports Leagues Keep Coaches Safe If They're 'Comfortable' With Positive Tests?

Kyle Koster
Jason Miller/Getty Images
facebooktwitter

If sports come back, they'll come back with understanding that they'll continue in the wake of additional players testing positive for COVID-19. There doesn't seem to be a way around it, even if this initial wave slows. One hopes monetary pressures don't cloud judgement and force athletes back onto their playing surfaces before things are adequately safe. But who knows what the future holds -- and perhaps more importantly -- who can be a part of it.

Immunocompromised players will have to think long and hard about the risks before they sign up to play again. Players with families will do their own calculus. Part of me fears that we're speeding to an unpleasant time when those who make tough, intensely personal choices will be vilified by a rightfully bored but shortsighted public desperate for distraction.

The most pressing question to me -- and one I haven't heard discussed all that often -- is age of the coaches charged with leading these teams. What, exactly, do things look like for them?

Even in our extremely fractured times, we can all agree the pandemic poses more of a risk for those over 50 than those half that age. Therefore, a reasonable argument can be made that healthy players aren't in relative danger if they contract it. The same can't be said for the guy with the suit and clipboard.

Consider the ages of these NBA coaches:

Jim Boylen, 55

Rick Carlisle, 60

Dwane Casey, 63

Steve Kerr, 54

Mike D'Antoni, 69

Nate McMillan, 55

Doc Rivers, 58

Alvin Gentry, 65

Billy Donovan, 54

Steve Clifford, 58

Brett Brown, 59

Terry Stotts, 62

Gregg Popovich, 71

Scott Brooks, 54

Quin Snyder, 53

Nick Nurse, 52

And these NFL coaches:

John Harbaugh, 57

Mike McCarthy, 56

Vic Fangio, 61

Frank Reich, 58

Doug Marrone, 55

Andy Reid, 62

Jon Gruden, 56

Anthony Lynn, 51

Mike Zimmer, 63

Bill Belichick, 68

Sean Payton, 56* (Payton already had COVID-19)

Doug Pederson, 52

Pete Carroll, 68

Bruce Arians, 67

Ron Rivera, 58

And these MLB managers:

Torey Lovullo, 54

Brian Snitker, 64

Bud Black, 62

Don Mattingly, 59

Joe Girardi, 55

Mike Shildt, 51

Dave Martinez, 55

Ron Roenicke, 63

Rick Renteria, 58

Terry Francona, 61

Ron Gardenhire, 62

Dusty Baker, 70

Joe Maddon, 66

Bob Melvin, 58

Scott Servais, 52

Charlie Montoyo, 54

In all three leagues, around half the managerial positions are filled by men north of 50. Are they all going to return to their positions if the plan is to simply fight through additional outbreaks? My gut says yes because of the nature of competition. But it definitely feels like tempting fate a bit.

Even if testing is ramped up to the point where it can be done routinely, a new NYU study says 48 percent of Abbott quick-testing units registers a false negative. That's not exactly a fail-safe. Even with 95 percent accuracy, contagious players and coaches could slip through the cracks.

Look, despite what some agitators would have you believe, there aren't many sportswriters out there rooting against sports coming back. No one is celebrating this time, which, what's the word here ... sucks hard. The point is that there are so many threads to pull on and logistical hurdles to consider.

An aging coaching ranks is certainly one of them.

facebooktwitter