NBA Covid-19 News: NBA team officials are tasked with implementing and overseeing the league’s day-to-day health and safety Covid-19 protocols. Rigidity in the protocols has been tough for the players as well as officials.
Moreover, some of these officials claim that they have found themselves so busy with obligations that their capability to work with individual players on a hands-on basis has been sacrificed, leading to matters about decreased care for players.
“I’ve actually told my peers on these trips that we’ve been on — it’s very, very difficult for me to get my hands on [players],” said one Western Conference head athletic trainer, who talked in a state of anonymity because they are not allowed to speak candidly.
One league health official who is close to the matter added, “What scares me — and I know it’s happening — is that their normal job of doing health care on players [is impaired]. I’ve had some trainers tell me, ‘I haven’t touched a player in two weeks because I’ve been so busy doing all this logistics and testing and all that.’ That’s concerning. That’s definitely what I don’t want to happen.”
“There will be some decline in player health care,” that head athletic trainer said. “But I think the larger part will be the overload of the care providers.”
What are the duties of an NBA team health official?
Roles that have been largely entrusted with team health officials, as described in the NBA’s 158-page protocols, include testing officer, contact tracing officer, facemask enforcement officer, facility hygiene officer, health education and awareness officer, and travel safety officer, among others.
“We’re responsible for the logistics of all of the staff, PCR testing, and all of the player rapid testing, and the compliance with the timelines that go into that every day, whether it’s an off day, whether it’s a game day,” said the second Western Conference head athletic trainer. “So the workload has increased dramatically. [And] there’s not been a decrease in any of the other workload.”
Said one Eastern Conference basketball operations official who is working to handle their team’s contract tracing program, “It’s just frustrating because with all these things they are making us do it’s been hard to find time to do our actual jobs. People are going to be exhausted and sick after this year with everything we are forced to do.”
There is hope that the staff can find a rhythm as the season goes on, but some team health officials also claimed that the condition continuously develops. There will be more memos and conference calls from the league in which new rules will be brought in.
There are also continually evolving city and state restrictions that affect team markets differently.
More excerpts from NBA team health officials:
“Emails are coming fast and furious at all times,” said the Eastern Conference head athletic trainer. “And they’re not a one-page memo; these are 15 pages, sometimes. They come through daily almost. And so, yeah, we have an obligation to stay current on stuff and it’s time-consuming.”
A Western Conference GM added, “There’s just not enough hours in the day to read the memos, the nuances, compliance, testing, the things that quickly change.” The Western Conference GM continued, “You have constant scenarios happening where the memos don’t cover that particular situation…That’s no one’s fault. It’s just where we’re at.”
“Normally, if you can get a 90% compliance rate in a lot of things, that’s really good,” said the second Western Conference head athletic trainer. “In some ways, a 90% compliance rate here might as well be zero.”
Some team health officials proclaimed weeks ago, as they were preparing for the training camp in early December, that they were already more occupied than they had ever been in their careers, with the Western Conference head athletic trainer saying that the workload was at least double if not three times what it was before.
“Every waking hour seems to be committed to [the protocols],” said the Eastern Conference head athletic training official. “But you look down the pike here, and… you wonder, ‘God, I barely got through today, how am I going to do this other 100-something times?‘”
Said one Eastern Conference general manager, “There’s a lot of people that are exhausted. I think their mental weight is as heavy as the physical weight. It wears on you, especially when you’re traveling, especially on the road. There’s so many moving parts.“