CRAWFORD | Newest Louisville COVID-19 cancellation portends a maddening March | Sports activities
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Well, that sucks.
The Louisville men’s basketball team has played 15 games. Seven games have now been canceled or postponed after the ACC announced on Wednesday that its home game against Syracuse would be canceled due to a positive test and subsequent contact follow-up in the Cardinals’ program.
This is college basketball in 2021. At least in some places. The Louisville men have only played nine ACC games, the lowest in the league. Miami leads the conference with 14 games played, despite losing 11 of them. Louisville’s women play in the same arena as the men. You’ve managed to play 13 ACC games and are expected to return from a week-long hiatus to play # 14 on Thursday night.
It’s no one’s fault, at least no one we can determine. The schools don’t give details about which players are sick or what the contact tracing showed, and that’s a good thing too. You don’t need the inevitable public shame that would result if these details were public.
(The school, by the way, kicked three soccer players off the team last August and revoked their scholarships after a party on campus produced a series of positive results. A university committee later said athletics had gone too far and had the scholarships of the Students reinstated appealed, although it did not restore their places on the football team.)
Is it because Louisville has fans at games? Difficult to say when the women could play more than the men while attracting about the same amount.
Everyone is crazy. One guy tweeted to me, “Who’s responsible?” It’s a little complicated. There is a lot of frustration for everyone. For the players who had to endure the starts and stops. For the trainers. For the fans – one guy on Twitter was furious because Louisville Sporting Director Vince Taylor didn’t advocate athletes skipping the vaccination line.
I was on the radio with Bob Valvano when today’s news broke. He calls the Cardinals Games on the radio. He is an analyst for ESPN. He doesn’t know where his next game is coming from. Game on, game off.
Even if there are signs that the virus is waning, new variants mean that basketball programs and other sports and entertainment activities are still at risk, and possibly even more at risk than they were.
And that’s a bad thing in tournament time. The NCAA will bring each team to Indianapolis for the men’s tournament and send each team to San Antonio for the women. But it allows any league to play a conference tournament without significantly supporting the NCAA tournament, which puts the entire field at increased risk of transmission just before the event.
It is ridiculous. They start the main games of the tournament on March 19th (not the first four). That’s five days after the SEC tournament in Nashville ended.
Play in a big event. Go to another big event. What could go wrong?
To protect the NCAA tournament, any conference tournament should be scrapped and teams should be encouraged to quarantine while preparing for the NCAA.
That will not happen. Conferences need the TV money, and that’s another problem. It’s both about the money and public health. There has to be a balance. But it’s really hard to achieve anything in sport after you’ve passed the professional level.
I feel bad for everyone involved. What if a team is positive and has to lose a tournament game after working all season to get there? It will crush.
March Madness’ summer beater drama may be replaced by a COVID disaster.
I hope not, but I know better. It’s sure to be an unsatisfactory ending, even worse if it happens to a team with a real chance of victory.
At this point I’m just typing. I don’t have a neat bow to wrap this up with. It sucks.
About the only perspective I can offer, sometime next week the US death toll from this virus will exceed 500,000. Half a million souls.
Amid the suffering and frustration of dealing with it all, there is something to celebrate when One Shining Moment is played when we can add these tournaments to that number with no coaches, players, or officials or company affiliates.
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