With college basketball a little over a month away, it’s time to start turning our heads as to how it will be played. We are starting to see schedules being formed, inter-team scrimmages but one question is still left to be answered, will there be fans at these games?
To put it simply, the answer should be no. Even though we have seen the NFL, College Football, and now the MLB with fans in attendance, this is different. These are all played in 60,000 plus seated stadiums and our outdoors, meaning that with a mask on and social distancing, it is very difficult for the virus to spread. Basketball is a much smaller venue and is in a closed area, meaning that it could spread quickly even with masks (as people would take them off to eat or drink) and could cause outbreaks within teams and potentially postpone or cancel the season. There are ways to have both sides, in which fans can watch the games in person while not directly be in the arena. Here are the four ways schools can do this.
Show games in football stadiums
This is the smartest way for schools to have fans. If they follow the same rules as football games, which is small groups, masks on at all times, and stay at least 6 feet apart from others, then they can broadcast games on the jumbotrons. Schools could still make money by selling tickets for entry as well as concessions, and people can still enjoy being in a crowd environment. This of course wouldn’t work for schools without football teams, but they can improvise by using a soccer stadium or baseball field and just have less fans.
For this, schools can open up one or several lots and project the game. People can stay in their cars, watch the game with a group of friends or family, and be on campus. This is very socially distant, safe, and gives people the luxury of getting to be in their cars as well as bring their own food and drinks.
While this might not look as nice as the NBA’s, schools can sell tickets to be virtual fans. They can place monitors on as many seats as they want and allow fans to have the experience of feeling like they are at the stadium. They can charge more for closer seats and perhaps provide other benefits so people can see the game. A lot of fans would want to do this because it gives them a chance to be on TV, it gives them the feeling of being at the game, and they still get to be in the luxury of their home.
The Raptors became famous for their outdoor viewing area called Jurassic Park. If schools have a big parking lot or any area in front of their arena, they can project the game and allow fans to be together and have that energy. They would have to keep it socially distant and require masks, but this is definitely, something schools can figure out and for will give the closest feeling of being in the game.