The rising number of covid 19 cases has seriously affected many games. In recent weeks, several players and staff members of the NFL tested positive, and many matches had to be cancelled due to the pandemic. Contact tracing was done in many cases, and it put several other players and coaches in self-isolation and quarantine.
In this situation, it can be very difficult to deal with the situation when coaches get infected as they will not be there to guide the team in a crucial moment. Even though there are backup options available with assistant coaches and other options, contact tracing often puts all of them under quarantine, and most teams will be left without coaches during the matches. Let us try to understand how this can be managed during the coronavirus pandemic.
Kansas coach Les Miles is just one among the 10 head football coaches infected with the coronavirus. The coach stayed at home as his team went to attend games at West Virginia. The team managed to use the services of the assistants to proceed with the games.
Recently Head coach Jeff Brohm was infected, and he was not available for the Purdue’s game against Iowa. On his behalf, his brother, who is also an offensive coordinator handled the responsibilities. They often met remotely and tried to interact with the players on key issues.
The trend with college football in recent years has increased the coaching staff, and they have assistants for the head coach. In this way, several analysts and quality control coaches handle different responsibilities. When one person is not available, the other person can handle the responsibility for the time being. However, when they are dealing with a pandemic like Covid, it can knock out the entire coaching staff when contact tracing is done as all of them usually interact very closely during the training session and tournaments.
The problem arises during match days when only certain people are allowed to do certain tasks. Say, for example, even though analysts are capable of handling a variety of tasks in assisting the coaches, they cannot be on the sideline on a match day. Analysts can assist the coaches during the practice sessions and even get involved in planning the games along with the coaches. However, their task gets reduced drastically during the matches as they are not allowed in the coaches’ box.
In this situation, when the head coach along with the assistant gets infected, they will not be able to coordinate with the players directly, and this can affect the performance of the players in a big way. This has happened recently with many teams, and they could not make suitable alternate arrangements at the right time. This is something that no one is prepared to handle, and most of the teams are now coming up with alternate options to deal with such problems.
In recent weeks, Purdue missed their head coach and assistant for a game. On the other hand, while head coach of Florida Mike Norvell missed the Miami game, they managed to have assistants and somehow got through the games.
Many seniors are worried about this trend of moving around coaches as this can affect the overall performance of the team. Some coaches are not even thinking in this direction as they are not convinced about the replacement in such a short duration of time. They are of the opinion that when things change suddenly due to an infection, it is next to impossible to continue with the game in a normal way and the head coach will not be able to find a suitable replacement in quick time.
Some coaches who missed the important games recently shared their experience about having to watch the match on TV. The coaches who missed the matches due to coronavirus felt disappointed as they were not sitting on the sideline. It was a heartbreaking moment for them when they had to watch the game remotely and not be able to support the team when they needed it the most.
Some coaches have learnt a lot from such experiences, and they have made extensive plans to arrange for replacements on short notice. In this way, they will not be shocked if they are tested positive for coronavirus, and they will have a suitable backup plan when something goes wrong with the team. Many coaches are of the opinion that considering the growing number of cases across the country, it will only be a matter of time before they get close to such a situation. It makes sense to have a proper backup plan so that the team does not panic when the head coach is not available to assist them during the game.
In recent matches, some players tested positive after the game, and when contact tracing was done, it was found that they had interacted closely with several members of the team and many of them were placed under self-isolation or quarantine. Not only this, even coaches and other staff members are under similar risk, and the entire training staff may get out in one go if they are under a high-risk contact list. In this situation, no plan will work even if they have backup, and they have to just depend on their luck to stay away from the virus.
The NFL has taken stringent steps whenever such incidents were reported in recent months. Even after this, more than 50 players were infected during recent tournaments, and they had to sit in isolation for a long duration. The NFL also suggests strict contact tracing and whenever a player gets infected, all the close contacts of the infected player come under high-risk contacts. They will be sent to quarantine even if they test negative for the virus.
In this way, the other teams will be safe, and the authorities can safeguard the staff members from the infection. The authorities have even suggested that players use face protection while playing the games so that the chances of getting infected with coronavirus during the game reduces by some margin.