There’s a palpable sense in the Triangle the the pandemic is easing up. On January 20th, there were 1,245 new cases; on June 20th, there were zero new cases.
Masks are worn less and less, the shields at store counters are started to come down and the various athletic departments are planning for full crowds next year at events.
So naturally NC State was forced out of the NCAA baseball tournament due to Covid.
To an extent, the Pack can only blame itself: vaccinated players were exempt from the Covid protocols and only 13 players were available Friday and apparently Saturday the number dipped below the NCAA minimum. Clearly a number of players have chosen not to be vaccinated.
That said, getting vaccinated is a personal decision and the members of the team, like anyone else, make that choice for themselves.
But the NCAA protocols were in place before the tournament so there was really no way around this for those who chose not to vaccinate and who tested positive during the tournament.
Still, the idea that this is part of the fabled “NC State Stuff” (there’s another word but we won’t use it here) is ridiculous. For that matter, the whole idea of NC State Stuff is kind of ridiculous but once you start believing in a curse, it happens. Did we learn nothing from Maryland’s self-fulfilling belief that the ACC always favored the NC schools? Look how much Maryland damaged itself by believing that. Close losses were never Maryland’s fault. Even Duke’s huge Final Four comeback saw Gary Williams rage at the refs, reportedly saying, “how much do you want Duke to win!” It wasn’t even the ACC anymore but he couldn’t help himself. Maryland never allowed itself to be the equal of Duke and UNC.
We’d like to think Duke and State fans get along pretty well, so Wuffies, please take this in the spirit it’s intended.
You should never, ever talk about NC State stuff again.
This is a gutting way to end a great season, but it didn’t have to happen this way. It was a choice made by members of the team. And again, that’s their choice to make and no one else’s, but this is not the result of a curse. It’s the result of choice.
Beyond that though, the very idea that State is somehow lesser or permanently doomed...that has to go. If you expect to be cursed, you will be.
Instead you should think this: NC State is a great school with immense athletic potential. Setbacks are temporary. We want to be great at everything.
Look at what your baseball team did Friday, nearly winning with just 13 players and a pitcher covering first base. That takes heart and soul. That aspires to greatness, not excuses. And that should define his team’s legacy, not a pandemic.