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NC State baseball: America’s team, er, cautionary tale

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Syndication: The Tennessean George Walker IV / Tennessean.com via Imagn Content Services, LLC

If there is some good to come from NC State baseball’s unfortunate demise at the College World Series, it’s that it’ll hopefully serve as a reality check for athletes elsewhere who might be wavering on getting vaccinated.

College commissioners are taking the opportunity: Big 12 commish Bob Bowlsby mentioned NC State during his remarks at the league’s media days last week, and the SEC’s Greg Sankey did the same yesterday.

NC State baseball isn’t the only team to have its season ended prematurely by COVID-19, but it is the most high-profile case, considering the circumstances. (VCU men’s basketball was sent home from the NCAA tourney, but that was in the first round.) It’s a stark reminder that this virus can cost your team a season.

That’s an important message right now, since everybody’s counting on a normal college football season, and a lot of programs still have work to do from a vaccination standpoint. Only six SEC programs have reached the 80% vaccination threshold, per Sankey, but he also says the league is not planning to reschedule games that are disrupted by COVID-19. Forfeiting even one game will have substantial consequences for most college football teams, obviously.

The push to get kids vaccinated will be a consistent message for the rest of the offseason, and it’ll probably continue to involve NC State baseball as an example of what’s at stake. If that ends up helping everything go more smoothly this fall, that’s at least a tiny bit of consolation.