Minnesota Timberwolves President and Head Coach Tom Thibodeau and Lynx Head Coach Cheryl Reeve will both work as assistant coaches with the men’s and women’s 2016 Olympic basketball teams in Rio de Janeiro. Four Lynx stars — Lindsay Whalen, Maya Moore, Seimone Augustus and Sylvia Fowles — all earned spots on the women’s team.
The United States women have won 42 straight games played in Olympic competition. But it’s the women who face the greatest health challenges this year. As my late father-in-law Dr. Robert Johnson used to say, be prepared for the unexpected.
It amazes me how after all these years there’s never been this type of scrutiny or concern for the overall safety of the athletes. The media business, for the most part, may have rendered this the most paranoid, controversial games ever. And not because golf is once again an Olympic sport. The water conditions for drinking and competing in Rio have been called harmful and loaded with human waste and trash.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been issuing warnings for more than a year about the effects of the Zika virus and how it can cause catastrophic birth defects in developing fetuses, including microcephaly, which results in an abnormally small skull and, in most cases, incomplete brain development.
No wonder so many athletes have pulled out in fear and are staying away from Rio de Janeiro. Minnesota has six courageous people, one man and five women, who have trusted the U.S. authorities who are protecting, supervising and monitoring their every step while they are in Rio and promise to guide them out of harm’s way.
“That’s unfortunate, I think, to have some people, some Olympic hopefuls, that are not going because of their concerns because of their health,” said Cheryl Reeve. “My understanding is, with our group, we understand the precautions we need to take. Obviously you can’t necessarily guarantee that something isn’t going to happen in terms of your health. You also don’t kinda want to blow things out of proportion.
“You know how it gets when one thing happens and the next thing it’s on CNN and everything else and we’ve got a crises,” Reeve continued. “I trust U.S.A. Basketball, the USOC [U.S. Olympic Committee]. I trust their information.
“That’s all you can do, kinda put it in their hands. They’ll keep us safe. They’ll have people all around us and…they’ll have people guiding us through any concerns they do have.”
The unknown will factor into these 2016 Rio Olympic games also partly due to some terrorist concerns which always seem to arise. I’m hoping that all the talk, speculation and fears over the many issues that have been raised will not overshadow these dedicated, world-class athletes and coaches who have paid a severe price to dream and compete for their countries on this world stage.
The spirit of the Olympic games hopefully won’t be consumed by the fears of “what if.” Minnesota really has strong representation in Rio, particularly in basketball.
Larry Fitzgerald can be heard weekday mornings on KMOJ Radio 89.9 FM at 8:25 am, on WDGY-AM 740 Monday-Friday at 12:17 pm and 4:17 pm, and at www.Gamedaygold.com. He also commentates on sports 7-8 pm on Almanac (TPT channel 2). Follow him on Twitter at FitzBeatSr. Larry welcomes reader responses to email@example.com, or visit www.Larry-Fitzgerald.com.