Oklahoma State head football coach Mike Gundy made a splash in the news Tuesday afternoon during a teleconference in which the key takeaway was a tentative date for the Cowboys to return to campus and resume football activities. Just like the rest of the world, the Cowboys are being forced to sit on the sidelines during the widespread pandemic of the coronavirus.
Gundy made it clear that, while the date is subject to change, May 1st is the target that he has in mind. Despite the fact that this directly contradicts the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s social distancing recommendations, which have been extended through May 11th, as well as the the Big 12’s statement on athletics activities, he stirred up plenty of other controversy with some of the comments he made.
After referring to COVID-19 as “the Chinese virus,” he made it clear that having a plan is important: ““We have to have a plan,” said Gundy, “and the plan right now is for them to start on May 1.”
Oklahoma State Athletic Director Mike Holder called Gundy’s target date “ambitious,” and the university made an official statement saying that they “will adhere to the advice of public health experts” and they “will also abide by the federal and state mandates as well as Big 12 guidelines.”
Despite the clear seriousness of the virus that has resulted in more than 82,000 deaths worldwide as of Tuesday night, Gundy seemed almost unbothered.
“The majority of people in this building who are healthy … and certainly the 18-, 19-, 20-, 21-, 22-year-olds that are healthy, the so-called medical people saying the herd of healthy people that have the antibodies may be built up and can fight this? We all need to go back to work.”
Gundy added, “I’m not taking away from the danger of people getting sick…and we’re losing lives, which is just terrible.” Based on his comments, it’s hard to tell just how serious he thinks this situation is, but at the very least, he’s trying to make sure everyone is staying safe by encouraging them to practice proper social distancing.
Regardless of how we feel about the coronavirus, it is a very serious issue for the time being. Still, it too shall pass, and life will resume as normal. When that happens, we need to be ready, and I think that’s where Mike Gundy is trying to move his focus as a head coach of a Division I football program.
While many people don’t like his target return date, it’s important to have a plan, and he’s very well aware that it could be changed. “It might get backed up two weeks,” Gundy said. “I don’t know, I can’t make that call, but if it does, we’ll start with the employees of this company, the ones that come in this building. Then we’ll bring the players in, and slowly but surely we’ll test them all in.”
His point of view on giving such a drastic importance to football in a time as this has stirred up plenty of frustration around the country, and while it’s easy to nitpick at soundbites, I think it’s important that we remember that life will go on, with or without us, and while plenty of people want to focus on the negative, perhaps we can take a lesson out of Mike Gundy’s book and try to spend some time preparing for a brighter future. At the same time, maybe we should plan it a little further out.