Team officials around the NBA who have been tasked with enforcing and managing COVID-19 protocols – in addition to their typical team duties – are feeling overwhelmed and are struggling to keep up, writes Baxter Holmes of ESPN.
A number of those officials who have to manage the new health and safety protocols have had trouble balancing their roles and are concerned they’re not spending enough time on the usual treatment, recovery, and training for players, according to Holmes.
“What scares me — and I know it’s happening — is that their normal job of doing health care on players (is impaired),” one league source told ESPN. “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.”
While no one who spoke to Holmes blamed the NBA for its diligence in establishing extensive coronavirus protocols, most felt worn out by all the extra work those protocols have created. One head athletic trainer for a Western Conference team told ESPN that the usual workload has at least doubled, if not tripled, this season.
As Holmes writes, the league required each club to name a testing officer, a contact tracing officer, a face mask enforcement officer, a facility hygiene officer, a health education and awareness officer, and a travel safety officer, among other positions. In many cases, the same staffer holds more than one of those roles.
The league’s protocols are also constantly evolving and being updated, and teams must account for varying local rules and regulations in each market on road trips.
“There’s just not enough hours in the day to read the memos, the nuances, compliance, testing, the things that quickly change.” one Western Conference GM told Holmes. “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.”
There’s hope among teams’ health officials that they’ll be able to get accustomed to their dual roles and “find a rhythm” as the season progresses, according to Holmes, but there’s also concern that the burnout will only get worse.
“Every waking hour seems to be committed to (the protocols),” one Eastern Conference head athletic training official said. “But you look down the pike here, and… you wonder, ‘God, I barely got through today, how am I going to do this another 100-something times?'”