Everybody loves to hate on Duke.
It’s because they’re really good. Fans hate teams they can’t beat, and Duke doesn’t lose very often.
Certain as the sun rising in the east, the Blue Devils are always ranked in the Top 25 and always competing for national championships.
As outlined in last Friday’s Extra Points, I’m totally cool with embracing the hate when it comes to basketball.
But I saw some hatred on Thursday that I didn’t like.
Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski made the decision to cancel the rest of his team’s non-conference games because of fears about rising COVID-19 numbers.
He was immediately chastised for doing so. That’s just wrong, and I’ll tell you why.
Deeper than the COVID cases, he feels his team needs a break. A mental break.
College basketball players had their seasons abruptly halted back in March. They quarantined, then were sent home for an indefinite period of time. They were eventually able to come back to campus over the summer. But it wasn’t the college life that you and I remember so fondly.
No going out. No meeting new friends. No bars. No parties.
School. Practice. Workouts. Study Hall. Bed. Rinse. Repeat.
That’s been the schedule all year. It’d be draining for anybody, but especially an 18-year old kid.
And now, I think Coach K sees something that the rest of us don’t: the possibility of a conference bubble.
He sees that his players may be stuck with just each other for months if the ACC, or any other conference, decides to bubble up to get through the season.
Mental health is not something to take lightly.
There’s nothing wrong with taking a break. Taking a second to breath. Going home. Hugging your family. Seeing a friend. Those things help immensely.
Good on Coach K for having his players’ back, for seeing around the corner, and for standing up for what he believes is right.
I know we all love to hate on Duke, but this time, let’s applaud them.
Just like normal, they’re leading the way.
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