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The Effects of COVID-19 on College Hoops

It’s only two weeks into college basketball and a plethora of games have been canceled. According to CBS sports, there were 72 Division I men’s basketball games scheduled for Saturday. Forty-seven were played while the rest were canceled or postponed, meaning 35 percent of the schedule was called off due to COVID-19.

Baylor vs Gonzaga

The latest cancellation comes from the much-anticipated matchup between the top two teams in the country: No. 1 Gonzaga and No. 2 Baylor. Less than 90 minutes before tip-off, the game was called off. According to a statement released by both schools, a Gonzaga player, and somebody else in the Zags’ traveling party, tested positive for Coronavirus. 

“We’re disappointed to not be able to play one of the most anticipated games of the season, but we are following the advice of public health officials,” said the coaches.

“When we decided to play during a pandemic, our priorities were protecting the health and safety of student-athletes and following public health guidelines, and we’re proud of how both programs have held true to those promises.”

The cancellation brings light to the issue of COVID-19

With lots of talk and excitement surrounding the game, much speculation rose after COVID-19 cases were brought to the public eye. It’s led many to reevaluate whether college basketball should continue amid a nationwide surge of the pandemic. In the past week in the United States, new daily cases rose 10.7 percent, COVID-related hospitalizations rose 12.7 percent and COVID-caused deaths rose 35.0 percent. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is advising Americans to neither travel nor gather.

“It’s a fair question to ask, ‘should we be doing this?’ We are going to continue to see these kinds of disruptions over and over again,” ESPN college basketball analyst Jay Bilas said. “We felt like we knew this would be a bumpy ride throughout the wintertime with programs pausing activity and games being postponed or canceled.”

Besides the Bulldogs versus Bears matchup, No. 10 Illinois canceled its game against UT Martin and No. 24 Ohio State canceled a game with Alabama A&M. Another program that has been affected heavily by COVID-19 is Tennessee Volunteers. Tennessee basketball announced on Tuesday that their season opener has been canceled because of positive COVID-19 results from UTM. This would mark the fifth canceled game for Tennessee in the last two weeks.


To date, roughly 21 percent of all games scheduled have been postponed or canceled. It’s a shame to see many disruptions in the scene of college basketball; however, the 2020-21 season will persist. The major inconsistencies are only a hint of what’s to come later in the season. 

“This is total chaos,” sportscaster Dick Vitale said. “My feeling from Day 1 was that we should’ve started the season around February and then played conference games because this thing is out of control. Basketball is my life and my love. But it comes secondary when the disease is running rampant. We’re going to have a lot of this happen and we should be listening to the experts.”

“The bottom line is that we should not just be playing games to get games done, then having them canceled,” Vitale said. “That’s not good for the student-athletes or anybody.”

This unprecedented year has changed the landscape of basketball dramatically. Many are on the fence as to whether it’s ethical for the 2020-21 season to pursue. As of now, it seems likely it will, although the NCAA has not come out with a new statement. The rest of the season will be a bumpy one, but the end goal will be a smooth 2021 March Madness. 


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