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Pittsburgh coach Jeff Capel on playing during COVID-19: 'Something just doesn't feel right'

Ryan Young
·3 min read
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The college basketball season is off and running despite the COVID-19 pandemic worsening by the day.

That, Pittsburgh coach Jeff Capel said on Monday, isn’t quite sitting right with him.

“These kids are away [from their families] and they’re out and they’re laying it on the line to entertain people. Something just doesn’t feel right about it right now,” Capel said Monday, via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “The numbers were what they were back in March. I look at it every day, man. It seems like every day it’s getting worse. I don’t know why you cancel it in March, but you say it’s OK to do it right now. But what do I know?”

‘The numbers are worse right now’

Capel has a point.

Last season — along with the rest of the sports world — abruptly came to an end in March during the early days of the pandemic. At the time, according to The New York Times, the country was averaging less than just 1,000 new coronavirus cases a day.

Now, the country is averaging more than 196,000 new cases each day as the pandemic is seemingly raging out of control. Yet the season is moving forward.

Of course, that’s not without issue. Several prominent coaches have already contracted the virus themselves — including Tom Izzo, Jim Boeheim and Scott Drew, to name a few — and programs are suspending activities left and right. No. 1 Gonzaga just shut down for a week on Sunday, and had to cancel four games as a result.

While he doesn’t have a specific plan to fix the issue, Capel did advocate for a break during the upcoming holiday season.

“It’s interesting to me — if you look at the numbers back in March, when the season was canceled, the numbers are worse right now than they were back in March,” he said, via the Post-Gazette. “I don’t know who the leadership is, I have no idea, but maybe they would think about a little bit of a pause just so kids can be with their families for Christmas, coaches can be with their families, but most importantly, because of what’s going on in our country right now with these numbers. It’s staggering.”

The problem with that, though, is that Capel isn’t sure who to advocate to.

“One of the things [Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski] used to say all the time when I worked there is that one of the biggest problems with our sport is we have no leadership,” Capel said, via the Post-Gazette. “You don’t know where to turn to get answers or who’s looking out for truly the best interests of the young men and women that are out there competing.”

Capel: Players ‘absolutely aren’t’ amateurs

While there are plenty of unknowns still abound, Capel said one thing was made perfectly clear to him since the pandemic hit.

Collegiate athletes deserve to be compensated.

“One of the things that has come about with all of this since everything happened in March when the season was canceled, I don’t think anyone can say anymore that these young men are amateurs,” Capel said, via the Post-Gazette. “That’s out the window. They’re not. They absolutely aren’t.”

Pittsburgh head coach Jeff Capel
With the COVID-19 pandemic raging like never before, Pitt coach Jeff Capel is uneasy about playing basketball. (AP/Keith Srakocic)

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