SAN ANTONIO — Someone needs to remind Baylor coach Kim Mulkey that the COVID-19 pandemic isn’t over.
Mulkey said Monday night that the NCAA should stop COVID testing at both the men’s and women’s tournaments ahead of the Final Four so no player runs the risk of testing positive and being ruled out.
“I don't think my words will matter,” Mulkey said after Baylor lost to UConn 69-67 in the Elite Eight. “But … they need to dump the COVID testing. Wouldn't it be a shame to keep COVID testing and you've got kids that end up test positive or something and they don't get to play in a Final Four?
“So you need to just forget the COVID test and let the four teams that are playing in each Final Four go battle it out.”
To suggest that a basketball game, even one in the Final Four or for the national title, is more important than a player or coach’s health is as troubling as it is ignorant. Mulkey, of all people, should know better, having had COVID herself in January.
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Baylor coach Kim Mulkey (Photo: Kirby Lee, USA TODAY Sports)
COVID has already killed more than 550,000 in the United States alone over the last year and cases, after plateauing for several weeks, are rising again. Medical experts, of which Mulkey is not one, are warning of the dangers of new, more contagious variants, urging people to remain vigilant about wearing masks, socially distancing and, yes, testing, until more of the country can be vaccinated.
That the men’s and women’s tournaments are being played in states that have loosened restrictions only heightens the risks. Texas has lifted its mask mandate, and while individual businesses in San Antonio can still require them, many do not.
The Rivercenter mall, attached to the hotel where NCAA Tournament teams are staying, has no signs requiring or even recommending that visitors wear masks, and few people do. Ditto for the Tower of Americas, a tourist attraction down the street from the Alamodome.
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