• phil cantor/@osgphil

Both College and Pro Basketball have a game cancellation problem


Stock College Basketball Photo

After going back and forth through the entire sports calendar year in 2020, we again face problems at the beginning of 2021.


Will another sport make it through the season?


The sport in question is basketball and it's not a College or Pro problem, it's a problem with both. Both are struggling right now as they kick into the supposed heart of their respective seasons.


That problem: Game cancellations.


If you've watched or read the non-political news of late you're probably aware that COVID-19 cases have been exploding all over the country. The civilian population is suffering en masse with thousands dying per day. Hospitals are overrun with sick people. Doctors and nurses are literally working until they drop, trying to keep up.


College basketball and NBA players aren't dying and they aren't, at least to my knowledge taking up valuable ICU space in hospitals. But they are getting exposed to the Coronavirus and it is impacting games.


Nearly 100 NCAA games have been either postponed or cancelled and we've not yet hit the halfway point of the season. The NBA has only postponed nine games so far, eight of them in the past five days (Jan 10-15).


We all know by now the NBA finished their abridged 2020 season in the Disney World bubble. They managed to finish the season but the stress of isolation made it a likely one-time only proposition.



College Basketball cancelled their 2020 season but the NCAA has full plans to finish this year and hold their "March Madness" tournament in the Indianapolis area as a modified "Bubble" event.


Which is all well and good. Assuming they get there.


I don't think the NCAA or NBA is going to postpone or cancel everything again, but they should. Neither of them I believe are willing to take the financial hit of not playing out another season. Which I understand, but at some point, the way things are developing it may end up being a "Risk vs. Reward" thing.


Right now, around 10 NBA teams are allowing or plan to allow a small percentage of fans at their games. The numbers vary, but in some cases it will be well over 1,000 people.


Sure, they'll be spread out in the 15-20,000 arenas, but how smart is it really to have people out and about right now when 5,000-20,000 people a day are getting infected with the virus in nearly every state?


I'll be honest, I don't really have a solution to offer here. I don't generally subscribe to the idea of complaining about something like this without offering an alternative. I don't know if cancelling NBA or NCAA games will solve anything.


I do know there are only so many NCAA games you can postpone before the season doesn't get completed. They're on a timeline to be finished in March. The NBA is different, the scheduled 72-game season can be shrunk if necessary.


But like almost every story or blog post about COVID-19 and sports posted over the past year, every decision about how to proceed rests on TV deals. They are the lifeline of sports. It's the money.




I don't believe the NBA or the NCAA is willing to forgo the money a season generates for another year. They don't or in some cases can't afford to sacrifice the losses...again.


And it is going to be an issue for other sports going forward too. Baseball's Spring Training starts soon and their regular season isn't far behind.


Major League Baseball plans right now to play 162-games with at least some fans in attendance. I'm not so sure that plan will come to fruition (I hope I'm wrong).


Tough decisions are going to have to be made. If you're following the re-emergance of the virus, you know there are people dying. A lot of people. Even with the rollout of a vaccine.


Until things become under control, I question the idea of moving ahead with sports. I question the idea that athletes and fans will be safe at games.


I could be wrong about all of this. But I don't think so.

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