By Arnie Leshin
Well there were the two men’s college basketball teams, the players, coaches and trainers, cant’s forget the referees, employees, and media members, but that was it when Yeshiva University played Worcester Polytechnic Institute in a Division III tournament game played at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore Friday. Otherwise, it was an empty gymnasium, no fans, and that was the decision of the two schools and Johns Hopkins authorities.
By now you must have figured this was because of coronavirus fears, and you are correct. Yeshiva won 102-78, and it was said that the energy on both benches was absolutely awesome.
Said Yeshiva head coach Elliott Steinmetz: “I think that really carried the guys on the court in a big way.”
This was believed to be the first United States sports even without fans because of the new coronavirus.
Players on each bench cheered and chanted “De-fense” to make up for the lack of fans. The squeaking sound of sneakers and bouncing of the ball reverberated off the walls of the 1,100 seat Goldfarb Gymnasium.
“It was definitely a weird experience,” said Worcester forward Jake Wisniewski. “All the emotions that are going on the court, everyone was able to hear it, which was weird. Usually, the crowd can kind of mask things that are being said on the court.”
As students walked by the athletics facility, there were police officers outside and signs on doors reading, “No Spectators”. Music blared over the speakers inside and some preplanned fans announcements, including one promoting social media sharing like “Tell the word you’re hear”, but it went on with no fans to hear anything, only players, coaches, referees, employees, and media members, so the official attendance was zero.
An NCAA COVID-19 advisory panel said Friday that it is not recommending cancellations or public spacing of athletics and and related events scheduled across the United States.
The NCAA Division I men’s and women’s basketball tournament begin in less than two weeks. Those games will be played in large arenas in front of crowds of thousands across the country from Spokane, Wash., to Albany, N.Y. The men’s semifinals and finals are scheduled for April 6 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, which seats 75,000.
Discussions of this will be taking place, and it’s anybody’s guess as to what will occur.
As LeBron James said when he heard of the NBA playing games before no fans, he said “No way am i playing without fans to play for, no way.”