Grover Report: How will COVID ruin yet another sport–college basketball


by Collin Grover, Reporter

This has been an awful year for many players, and 2021 may be similar. COVID ravaged many teams and players in college basketball. Teams have been forced to forfeit games; players have been forced to sit out games; and coaches have been forced to resign.

From the beginning of the 20-21 season to January 2021, there have been roughly 101 game cancellations, game postponements, teams pausing activities, and even season cancellations. This number is extremely high, and will only continue to get higher. 

Let’s turn time back to March of last year. March Madness. The tournament means so much to college basketball players all over the nation. The tournament was cancelled, causing devastation.  As one of the most watched amateur events, players, fans, college sports programs, and coaches were at a loss. It’s an awful situation for the fans who really wanted to see their favorite teams and players compete.

I believe that the tournament almost has to happen, even though these college athletes are not paid. This tournament is extremely important for many players, and can be life changing. No tournament could mean some players with talent get drafted in a later round, or even go undrafted. As long as the proper precautions are taken, this tournament should be fairly safe.

So devastating in fact, that due to the fact March Madness was cancelled, schools will lose out on $375 million dollars from the NCAA. Hopefully these schools will see this money in 2021, As of January 2021, the tournament is still expected to be held in Indianapolis. To reduce travel and the risk of infection, the entire tournament will be held in one location. The Indiana Convention Center is going to be transformed into a practice facility with several courts inside. NCAA has partnered with Marriott to house a majority of the teams, and they will be placed on different floors of the hotels. Teams will practice social distancing in the dining areas. There will be plenty of COVID tests from a local health provider.

The NCAA even considered a different approach, which would be doing a bubble. The NBA finished their 2020 season in Florida with a bubble, where every player is in quarantine for 14 days before the league begins, and they are in an isolation zone at Walt Disney World. There were very strict rules on leaving the bubble, and if you were caught disobeying the rules, you were suspended for 14 days. The NBA had cracks in this bubble, but it never popped as there was 0 positive cases.

In 2020, local University of Maryland was a 3 seed, and many people, including me, think that the team could have gone very far if the tournament had taken place. The Terrapins had a fantastic roster with players like Jalen Smith (who went on to get drafted 10th overall by the Phoenix Suns) and Anthony Cowan (who was just recently selected 16th Overall in the G League Draft).

Players like Jalen Smith have a very high impact for organizations in March Madness, because if a player like him does very well, leading a team far into the tournament (or, in some cases winning the tournament), that basketball team will get more recruits because more good players will want to become a part of the seemingly good organization.

Players like Jalen Smith who are already very likely to be drafted don’t really need an increase in draft stock. However, for players that are on the verge of becoming major NBA draft prospects, they could really use a final chance to increase their draft stock.