Coaching changes happen in sports all the time.

But teams don’t make a change so close to the start of the season.

And this NHL coach stepped down for one reason that will make your stomach turn.

San Jose Sharks assistant coach Rocky Thompson stepped down after being unable to take the coronavirus vaccine due to a medical exemption.

The NHL’s protocol states that anyone within 12 feet of the players must be vaccinated.

“Under the new League protocols, I am not permitted to fulfill my duties on the Sharks coaching staff at this time,” a statement from Thompson read. “I will have no further comment on this matter.”

This is a significant blow to Thompson’s career and the Sharks as front office officials around the league viewed Thompson as one of the rising star coaching prospects in the game.

Thompson could have earned a head coaching position as soon as next year.

Pro sports leagues like the NHL imposed harsher COVID guidelines this year in large part to assist in the society-wide effort to force vaccinations on Americans.

Thompson has a medical issue which prevents him from taking the vaccine so Thompson cannot coach this season.

But this raises another question.

COVID is now endemic and likely to be with us forever.

Will institutions like the NHL keep these restrictions in place as part of a permanent pandemic?

Is there no end in sight to mandates about wearing masks and showing proof of vaccination?

Will individuals like Thompson continually be excluded from life because they cannot take the vaccine?

These are questions that need answering.

Sports with Balls will keep you up to date on any new developments in this ongoing story.