College basketball players take the court, but fans stay benched

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Because college basketball takes place indoors, fans of the sport have found themselves especially in the lurch as the spread of COVID-19 on the courts poses a major threat.

By Jordan Cohen, Contributor

College basketball fanatics typically spend their year anxious for November, which marks the start of one of their favorite seasons. However, this year it appears that the spirited student section and the aroma of buttery popcorn that normally fills the stadium will be missing as a result of the Coronavirus. Although each team battles against each other, they all have one common opponent that could end their season at any moment: COVID-19. The NCAA has not made a league-wide decision about fans and ticket sales, leaving it up to the individual conferences and Universities. 

Because basketball takes place indoors as opposed to outdoor sports like football and soccer, the spread of COVID-19 on the courts poses a major threat. Studies have shown that being inside increases the chance of contracting the virus.  Despite this threat, many universities filled their outdoor stadiums with some fans. However, doing the same with basketball has proven to be unsafe and unrealistic. 

“I’ve been watching tons of games already this season, and in some courts a small percentage of fans are actually allowed,” sophomore Eliot Biggerstaff said. “Honestly, it’s really frustrating to see that because I want the season to fully play out, and I especially want the March Madness tournament to happen this year.”

In addition to Biggerstaff, there are a handful of West Essex students who also explained that they are going to miss the irreplicable feeling of being in a packed stadium surrounded by spirited fans.

“I am going to miss the arenas filled with sound whenever an energetic play occurs,” junior Noah Decker said. “It’s a surreal feeling and nothing compares to a vibrant and loud stadium.” 

Junior Jack Flusser said, “I am going to miss the energy and intensity of a college basketball game that comes with the fans.”

Just like in any sport, being the home team is an advantage. However, this year it won’t really seem to matter because no matter where you play, the crazy fans aren’t going to be there to impact the spirit of a game

Sophomore Zach Atlas said, “Players are able to concentrate more, especially when it comes to free throws. However the excitement of playing in front of a packed stadium is so exhilarating for players, so games lose a certain aspect of thrill due to the lack of fans.” 

Last season, due to COVID-19, the March Madness tournament was canceled, and the upcoming arrival of the 2021 tournament has Collegiate basketball fans on the edge of their seats waiting to see what March will entail. 

“If the March Madness tournament is canceled again this year, I’ll be devastated,” said Biggerstaff. This tournament is the most-watched by fans all across the globe which will leave so many people in the same despair as Biggerstaff. 

Collegiate basketball, as well as many other indoor and outdoor sports, have been challenged immensely due to the pandemic. However, fans remain hopeful they will be able to watch the great March Madness tournament this year, whether it’s courtside or in sweats on the couch.