College basketball bounces back...sort of
WED. | 12-23-20 | SPORTS
For the first time since March, college basketball is back, but this time with a few changes. On March 17, 2020 the final games of the season were cancelled due to the abrupt outbreak of COVID-19. Before anyone knew it, the college basketball season, and more importantly March Madness, was cancelled before it could even get started. Every collegiate team’s players, coaches and fans’ hopes of ending their season by hoisting the championship trophy high were gone. Here we are months later, and despite all the obstacles that the world has had to overcome, college basketball tipped
Photo contributed by Scott Rogers
off on Wednesday, Nov. 25, and the season is now in full swing.
Although the season has started again, it looks a little different than it did last December. There has been a complete cut of all fan attendance for this season. All arena personnel, staff, coaches and players must go through protocol which includes being tested up to three times a week on nonconsecutive days. Scott Rogers, a scoreboard operator for all the home East Carolina University (ECU) men’s and women’s basketball games as well as the home baseball games, has had first-hand experience with these changes as he undergoes them himself this season.
“We are mandated by the American Athletic Conference to wear a face shield and a mask at all times at the scorer’s table,” Rogers said. “As soon as we get there we have to fill out a form and confirm we haven’t been exposed and they take our temperatures as we come into the building.”
He explained that it hasn’t had too big of an effect on how well he can do his job outside of small things like his face-shield fogging up.
Changes have been made in the personnel allowed in the building and the process of them getting inside the locker room space has been altered in order to achieve proper social distancing. Physical contact between players, coaches and officials has been eliminated. Also, the replay monitor and controller for the replay technology has been relocated so that it is distanced from all those involved in the game.
Something that might catch the eye of the average fan more than any of the other changes, is the absence of the various universities that won’t be participating in the 20-21 season due to COVID-19 safety concerns. The entire Ivy League conference, as well as various Division two and Division three schools have announced they won’t be playing basketball in the 20-21 season. Additionally, various conferences around the country, notably the PAC-12, have elected to play a conference only schedule for this season. It is yet to be determined what that will mean for postseason play come March, and if they will elect to take part in the championship contention.
With no fans in the stands this winter, the lack of a home atmosphere will take its toll on the players around the country. While there are posters of fans filling the seats, truthfully there's no way to replace the effects that the Cameron Crazies or the Minges Maniacs can have on the momentum of a game. For this season ECU basketball games will be streamed on various websites such as: ESPN +, Facebook Livestream and on ecupirates.com.
“There's not much excitement and the only cheering we hear are the occasional yell from the team’s benches,” Rogers said. “They were pumping in some fake crowd noise but it’s just not the same as a packed Minges Coliseum and fans really being in there.”
Regardless of the changes that are having to be made for the season this year to accommodate the safety concerns of COVID-19, it is exciting to see college basketball finally being played again. Although there won’t be any fans in attendance for the games this season, I’m confident college basketball will still have a season full of explosive dunks, exciting buzzer beaters and plenty of down-to-the-wire games that will be lots of fun to watch.