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On September 16 it was announced by The NCAA Division I Council that the men’s and women’s college basketball season will officially begin on November 25.
College sports were put to an abrupt end in late March when the Coronavirus first broke out. This was the first time in history where March Madness was canceled. No one knew what to expect with the season being cut short. They did not know if games were going to be made up or if the tournament as a whole was going to be rescheduled.
Coaches and players spoke out on what they thought about the season being canceled especially seniors at their universities. They tried to play their last couple of games before the tournament without any fans at all, but there were too many concerns with the virus. Everyone gave mixed opinions, but in the end, everyone knew that cancelling the season was the best move.
Many people are still unsure if The NCAA should play or not. I believe that the athletes should be given the chance to play this season even with everything going on. These athletes go to school obviously for their academics, but also for the sport that they were given a scholarship for.
In addition to the basketball season starting on November 25, The NCAA has also said that there will be no scrimmages or exhibition games prior to the start date. All teams will have non-conference games, holiday tournaments, and most importantly the NCAA Tournament at the end of the season. All of these games will take place once the season starts on the 25th.
Starting out, teams will hold full preseason practices on October 14 and will have about 30 practices before the season actually starts. They also changed the amount of games each team will play throughout the season. The maximum number of games they can play is 24 or 25 and this was reduced by 4 from the previous season.
The NCAA is doing the most they can to make sure that this season can go along without any bumps in the road. Reducing the amount of games helps the teams get through the season at a faster pace.
Many of the teams are deciding on whether or not they want to do a controlled environment similar to the "NBA bubble," just not as intense. This would mean that there would be restrictions for the players and coaches, but it would not be anywhere close to the level of quarantine that the NBA executed. The NBA bubble did not allow anyone in or out of the Disney Complex causing the players and coaches to limit their contact from other people and allowing them to play without much worry of getting the virus.
One challenge that would present itself during the season would be that family would want to be there in-person for every game. This is of utmost importance to most parents of serious athletes and their children. However, in a time like this I believe that if the parents do not have the same restrictions as the players, they should not have any contact with them. If they are able to do what they want and go where they want, they would be putting the players and staff at risk with catching the virus and that can all be eliminated if there are no fans at all.
The NCAA talks about how they cannot do what The NBA or MLS has done with their bubble and the tight restrictions they have for their players. Each school gets to decide how restricted their team will be and ultimately the team gets to decide if they stay completely closed off and in quarantine, or if they just take some minor precautions.
One challenge that has presented itself with the controlled environment is that teams would not be allowed to fly or travel long distances to play. This will be difficult because there are only so many schools within driving range for teams to play depending on the level.
If teams need to travel, they should be able to, but they should do it with restrictions. If the school can afford it, they should try and get the teams own transportation. If they cannot, they should talk to the airports and try to manage something that could be done for the team to limit their contact from other people, but travel should not be completely ruled out.
To help with this challenge, at least eight of the pre-conference events will be moved to the ESPN Wide World of Sports in Walt Disney World Resort. With this solution The NCAA is trying to gain the same success the NBA has had with their season.
In order for The NCAA to keep their players healthy, instead of creating a completely closed off bubble, they should introduce minor restrictions. The coaches ultimately decide on what to do for their team, and I think that they should not be lenient with these restrictions. They should have set rules for both the players and staff to follow to ensure the safety of everyone.
There has been one college in particular who has decided to use the "bubble technique." Mercer University located in Atlanta Georgia has decided to go the "bubble" route and keep their players completely out of contact with the rest of the school. Mercer has a medical school on campus that will help with the testing which keeps the cost down from using this method.
This is an example of one college that many can follow. Not all universities have a medical school on hand, but if they do, they should think about utilizing them to help with this process. And, if there is no medical school on hand, some universities can do some outsourcing to find a different way to speed along testing by either hiring more people to help with all of the tests or maybe partnering with a company or medical facility that can help.
With everything going on with the Coronavirus so far, universities and The NCAA have been doing all they can to ensure that athletes will have a season this year. The NCAA is breaking barriers with this virus creating new ideas to keep everyone safe and ensuring that athletes will have the opportunity to have a season.
People who live for college sports are ready for the season to start, I know I am.