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Basketball Coaches Differ on Wisdom of Cancelling State Tournaments

South Dakota’s state high school basketball tournaments have been shut down, just like pretty much every other big social event that would bring thousands of covid-19 vectors together into a contagion-fest.

Brandon Valley Brent Deckert says he totally disagrees with shutting down his team’s chance to repeat as state champs… and is missing a chance to coach his boys to see past emotion and understand something bigger than sport:

I just told them the same thing everybody knows. It’s kind of our of our hands, but at this point, the nice thing is that it’s just postponed right now. So, maybe if things level off, maybe the state will come in, maybe the governor will come in, and make a decision that we could actually go forth with this in some different scenarios. I don’t know. I’m only guessing, there, but again, it may be a glimmer of hope, and we’re certainly going to hang on to that until we get to it, otherwise.

Those are the things we talked about at first, and then the last thing we talked about is, they looked at me and they looked at each other and they said, ‘Well, what park are we going to go to?’ They know they can’t play at school anymore, so literally, our team is at a park right now playing 5-on-5 basketball, so I think you know where their mind is right now: They want to keep playing.

Again, I’m only giving you selfish reasons for this. I am only, my thought process is not on me having any information about why we shouldn’t be having this. I’m only going on basically heartfelt emotion of a group that I’ve been working with all season long….

I’m having a hard time seeing the big picture. Obviously, I don’t think this is best for kids. But again, this is another reason why I’m not in this decision making process. Like I said earlier, all I am is the head that boys basketball coach at Brandon, and the only thing I can do is make decisions based on that. I don’t get to make the big decisions that have to be made by somebody else [Brent Deckert, transcribed in John Gaskins, “BV Coach ‘1000 Percent’ Disagrees with State Hoops Shutdown, Defers to State Officials,” KELO Radio, 2020.03.14].

The boys at O’Gorman are getting the bigger picture from their coach:

I said, ‘guys, I don’t see it. I don’t see how this is going to work out to ever play it again,'” O’Gorman boys coach Derek Robey said.

A head coach for 35 years in both boys and girls hoops — the last 14 years at O’Gorman — Robey has guided the Knight boys to six state chamionships. He’s “keeping my fingers crossed” for them getting a chance to make a run at a seventh, but is resigned to it likely not happening.

…”Now, we’re looking three weeks down the road. Now, you’re into a track season, a baseball season, a tennis season, other events, AAU basketball. I said, ‘guys, I’m being realistic with you,’ and I’m being realistic with everybody out there: I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it is postponed, and I’m all for it. I would love to play this. But I’m also realistic, and I don’t see it happening. I really don’t.”

Robey added that once the weather warms up and athletes are in the midst of spring, people are going to be out of the immediate shock of state hoops shutdown.

By then, “I think people realize we’re doing the right thing as a society, as a culture, and we’re going to say, ‘enough is enough,’ let’s move on. Let’s not drag this out.”

…”We’re doing the right thing,” Robey said. “If we can save one person’s life for doing this, I mean, perfect. That’s what we’re trying to do, here. There are smarter (people) than you and I making this decision. And, obviously, they know what’s best for our world, for our society, and if we can save lives, that’s what it’s all about. We’re looking out for the safety of humans, not just a basketball tournament. Not just March Madness [John Gaskins, “State Hoops to Be Played Later? ‘I Don’t See It,’ Says One Veteran Coach,” KELO Radio, 2020.03.14]

Now back to your Khan Academy home school schedule… and maybe some online chess.


  1. mike from iowa 2020-03-16

    Might be a good time for the state and schools to learn kids about liability if the tourney is held and numerous people become sick from a contagious disease that could have been prevented.

    Be a good time to remind kids and parents there are more important happenings in life than individual and team successes in sports. Remind kids and parents that their duty to vote is more important than ever. All of us deserve better response from our allegedly elected leaders.

  2. jerry 2020-03-16

    Good points mfi

  3. jerry 2020-03-16

    And as always, our other virus

    “Five people including a police officer and a gunman have died in a shooting at a petrol station in the United States state of Missouri after the attacker went inside and opened fire, police said on Monday.

    The dead also includes three citizens, Police Chief Paul Williams announced on Monday. An officer was injured along with another citizen.”

  4. John 2020-03-16

    There is no time like the present drilling home the lesson that sports and our social sports-infatuation are a distraction having little to do with living lives. Get over it. Move on. Become adults, as has coach Robey.

  5. Donald Pay 2020-03-16

    It’s a sad thing for those kids. They worked hard. Sports or music or drama or art or debate or anything else students pour themselves into is not a distraction to them. It’s important in their lives. I appreciate the sacrifice they are making to help keep some of us elders alive a few more years.

  6. jerry 2020-03-16

    There are young people dying from this virus Mr. Pay, ignorance helps keep the pandemic going.

  7. jerry 2020-03-16

    trump and the republican senators tell the state governors they are on their own to fix his screw up.

    “President Trump told a group of governors Monday morning that they should not wait for the federal government to fill the growing demand for respirators needed to help people diagnosed with coronavirus.

    “Respirators, ventilators, all of the equipment — try getting it yourselves,” Mr. Trump told the governors during the conference call, a recording of which was shared with The New York Times.

    “We will be backing you, but try getting it yourselves. Point of sales, much better, much more direct if you can get it yourself.”

    The suggestion surprised some of the governors, who have been scrambling to contain the outbreak and are increasingly looking to the federal government for help with equipment, personnel and financial aid.” New York Times 03.16.20

    There ya go, fix it yourself, trump says, we take your tax money and give it to the rich guys on Wall Street slot machines. That one trillion and a half just goes to the wealthy, no soup for you.

  8. Donald Pay 2020-03-16

    You are right, jerry. It isn’t just old people dying from COVID-19.

  9. mike from iowa 2020-03-16

    “Respirators, ventilators, all of the equipment — try getting it yourselves,”

    Another drumpf admission he is clewless and helpless.

  10. jerry 2020-03-16

    Good reading for the young players that are now sidelined. Dan Brown’s Inferno

    “In Inferno, Dan Brown once again offers readers the same heady mix of history, art, symbols, and high-wire tension that catapulted The Da Vinci Code, Angels & Demons, and The Lost Symbol into international blockbusters. This time the stakes are even higher, as Harvard professor of symbology Robert Langdon must decode the mystery surrounding a virus that has the power to alter the course of human civilization—or possibly end it.

    As the novel begins, Langdon wakes up from a terrifying nightmare in a hospital in Florence, Italy. He doesn’t know how he got there or why he’s even in Florence. He’s told he’s been shot and suffered a slight head wound that has resulted in short-term amnesia. But as he learns more about what has happened to him, amnesia turns out to be the least of his problems.

    When a leather-clad assassin storms the hospital, Langdon is forced to flee with the beautiful doctor Sienna Brooks. Running from the assassin as well as the police, Langdon and Brooks are drawn into a devious plot that centers on one of the world’s most mysterious literary masterpieces, Dante’s Inferno.

    Langdon find himself up against an imminent global catastrophe. Renowned biochemist Bertrand Zobrist has created a virus that will be released in just twenty-four hours and infect the entire human species. Zobrist is a Dante fanatic and he has used references to Dante’s great poem as clues to the location and purpose of the virus. Langdon draws upon his own extensive knowledge of Dante’s poem and of Florence’s splendid art and architecture to decipher Zobrist’s riddle. But will he and Sienna be able to find the virus in time?

    Zobrist is motivated by the looming threat of unchecked population growth, convinced that the human species will not survive unless there is another mass extinction event on a scale of the Black Plague, which wiped out, in gruesome fashion, one third of Europe’s thirteenth century population. Zobrist sees himself as a savior, despised in his own time, shunned by the scientific establishment, and hunted by Dr. Elizabeth Sinskey of the World Health Organization, but certain that he will be thanked by future generations.

    Zobrist is determined and extremely clever. The clues he leaves are maddeningly complex, and Langdon must draw upon all his intelligence, erudition, and ingenuity to decipher them. Unraveling that mystery takes Langdon far beyond Italy into an ominous underworld, where a “chthonic monster” waits to forever change the course of human history.

    What makes Inferno so compelling is not only Dan Brown’s masterful ability to spin a spellbinding tale but his skill at weaving a complex and pressing social issue into the fabric of his narrative. The crucial problem of overpopulation, a problem that does indeed pose a threat to human survival, adds a deeper moral and ethical dimension to a book that offers all the page-turning pleasures readers of Dan Brown have come to expect.”

    Very appropriate for the times

  11. Peter Carrels 2020-03-16

    We know there have been confusing signals about the seriousness of this pandemic.
    Let’s start with one of the nation’s chief distorters of information.
    It’s hard to believe that President Trump awarded Rush Limbaugh the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Limbaugh’s calculated propaganda has created a generation of misinformed, hyper-partisans. Once and awhile I take some time to listen to Limbaugh on the radio, and his weird, baseless logic is simultaneously horrifying and laughable. His anger and hate sizzles through the airwaves. I happened to catch something a few weeks ago, and went online to double check. Yep, he did say this — This is excerpted straight off his radio broadcast:

    “Folks, this coronavirus thing, I want to try to put this in perspective for you. It looks like the coronavirus is being weaponized as yet another element to bring down Donald Trump. Now, I want to tell you the truth about the coronavirus. (interruption) You think I’m wrong about this? You think I’m missing it by saying that’s… (interruption) Yeah, I’m dead right on this. The coronavirus is the common cold, folks.”

    Yep. This dangerous, sickening blowhard was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and it was hung around his neck at the State of the Union event by the President’s wife to loud applause by the hyper-partisans Limbaugh helped create. Stay safe, folks. Despite what this medal winner is saying.

  12. Debbo 2020-03-16

    The first coach is doing an Injustice to his players and town.

    In Minnesota they shut down the tournaments when the girls was ⅔ finished. Of course the players were very disappointed, so the towns made lemonade. When the buses got to town people were lining the streets, yelling, cheering, waving signs. They had a celebration with a meal and decorated sheet cakes. You’d have thought the team won. 😁

    Several towns and teams did similar things. That’s class and decency right there.

    Now they’d have to conduct the Welcome Homes outside, but it’s very doable.

  13. Debbo 2020-03-17


    She nailed it! Excellent link John.

  14. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2020-03-18

    Donald, I agree: when I was coaching, if our State One-Act Play Contest had been canceled, I’d have been crushed emotionally… for a day or two. But I hope I’d have Coach Robey’s attitude and preach his realism to the team: we’re done, there’s nothing we can do about, we did good work, but we won’t get our moment of glory. Such is life. On to the next challenge.

  15. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2020-03-18

    Good point from that Spanish researcher, John: right now, I bet we’d be glad to pay an NBA salary to every microbiologist to come up with a coronavirus treatment and vaccine. Priorities.

    Maybe no athlete should get a million dollars until every scientist gets a million dollars. Who really provides utility in society?

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