How NCAA Basketball is handling COVID-19

The NCAA will give the teams options on whether or not fans should be admitted.
Photo credit: Noah Goulbourne

The NCAA will give the teams options on whether or not fans should be admitted. Photo credit: Noah Goulbourne

Noah Goulbourne, Co-editor - Sports Page

With NCAA basketball starting on Nov 25, the league hopes to contain its fans for the best experience possible. Due to COVID-19, the 2019 season was cut short and ended March 12, 2020. March Madness was cancelled and seniors lost their last chance of winning any championships. Before COVID-19, fans were what brought a true spark to the game. They provided the players with energy in crunch time and made the game the best it could be. Athleticdirectoru.com states, “The national average over the past eight years of percentage of seats filled for all D-I conferences was 51.6%. The average is 76.8% for power conferences and 45.6% for non-power conferences”. This season, all teams in the league have the choice for whether they want to have some fans or none at all. Also, coaches and staff will have to keep their masks on while on the sideline. Some teams have not decided whether they think fans are necessary. For example, in a virtual meeting ESPN covered, North Carolina men’s basketball Coach Roy Williams said, “the school will move chairs apart on the sideline so players can keep their distance from one another.” However, “the most impactful difference for the 2020-2021 season,” he said, “could unfold in the bleachers.”

Another precaution the NCAA is taking is to keep March Madness in one location. March Madness is college basketball’s biggest event, in which 64 teams from around the league play their hearts out for a chance at a championship. Each game is single elimination, and it lasts from March to April. Before COVID-19, March Madness was held at different locations for each round of the tournament. ESPN says, “No one is opening the NCAA tournament on one side of the country and advancing to the next weekend on the opposite coast. All that matters now is to avoid conference rematches until the designated rounds”. With such a big event, the NCAA can’t take any risks due to traveling.

Junior Boubacar Diallo says, “I would love to go to a UNC men’s basketball game this year as long as I’m following rules to be as safe as possible. I do feel that fans are necessary because they bring a whole different atmosphere to the building especially if it’s a home game. No fans will affect me because it will feel as if I’m watching a scrimmage. Either way I fully respect the NCAA and their decisions regarding COVID-19.”