From NBA to IBW, Is Basketball in Jeopardy?


Ian Valleau (he/him), Staff Writer

After starting seasons this year that seemed normal, basketball at all levels is now seemingly in jeopardy. While in the NBA, teams are losing players to health and safety protocols, and college basketball is losing entire games to covid, at the high school level, seasons went from no masks in-game, to masks being required at all times while playing, in a very short amount of time. Not to mention the threat of missing games and school due to covid. 

“It all seemed to be trending back to normal,” said Ida B. Wells-Barnett varsity forward Leo Heffron. “When we started the season it felt like how it did years ago, but now it just feels like last year again.”

Senior guard Leo Sewell echoed this frustration saying, “It was disappointing. Before the season we were in the gym with no masks, back to normal, now we’re wearing masks in game.”

Professional and college basketball has been hit hard, leading to concerns, controversy and worry amongst the leagues.

As of now, nearly one third of the NBA has contracted COVID, according to CBS sports. When a player gets out of health and safety protocols, it just seems like days where he goes back in, and players refusing to get vaccinated doesn’t help. Our hometown Portland Trailblazers looked like they were all healthy, but it all fell apart within days as many players entered health and safety protocols. 

NBA player Kyrie Irving is only allowed to play away games right now, as the mandate in New York does not let him play at home in Brooklyn due to his vaccination status. Games in the NBA have been postponed, and some games are becoming less interesting because stars are being put on health and safety protocols.

The Toronto Raptors of the NBA also have major problems. They are the only NBA team in Canada, and the COVID safety protocols and mandates in Canada are much stronger. 

They are the only team where fans are not allowed in the arena, leading to a lack of home court advantage to the already struggling Raptors. However, it is an improvement from 2 years ago, when they weren’t allowed to play in their home arena at all, and they relocated to Tampa Bay for the year. “It sucks”, said Raptors coach Nick Nurse, “Whatever your thoughts are, it’s just hard. But we’ve been through a lot of hard stuff so we can’t cry about it.”

Even for teams that have fans in the arena, attendance is lacking. Tickets for Portland Trailblazer games are currently as low as $5 due to low attendance rates, and games for the Indiana Pacers are as low as $1, hurting the teams and the NBA financially.

College basketball has been hit hard too, as colleges have to drop games and get them replaced by other teams because of COVID breakouts. A couple of weeks ago the North Carolina Tar Heels were set to play the UCLA Bruins, but the day before the game, UCLA had an outbreak and the game was suddenly switched around. The Kentucky Wildcats replaced them. 

People are also worried about the famous March madness tournament being canceled again, like it was 2 years ago. “At this point, we are continuing the planning of the NCAA basketball championships with normal format, schedule, and multiple host sites,” said senior vice president of the NCAA Dan Gavitt.

It’s safe to say that Basketball is really struggling right now due to COVID. Teams and leagues from all levels are scrambling for answers as they deal with players getting sick and games getting postponed and canceled. Many of us are hoping that a solution is found soon, and that the widely loved sport can get back to normal again.