Photo courtesy of Lucas Oil Stadium
The Big Ten announced yesterday that they would be allowing fans to attend the upcoming conference tournament at Lucas Oil Stadium in a limited capacity. This will be the first time since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic that there will be a live audience in attendance of a Big Ten sporting event.
Finally Kevin Warren gets something right. From the start, Warren has done nothing but screw up every possible thing. Whether it be cancelling the season, to going against recommended protocols surrounding testing and quarantine periods, to not letting families watch their kids play the sport they love, there hasn’t been much done correctly by the new Commish.
I’ll be the first to acknowledge that I was very much in favor of the #FireKevinWarren movement, and wish there could’ve been more done to obtain that outcome. With that being said, I’ll also be the first to give credit where credit is due, and this is a great step. Ultimately we’d all love to see the packed out arenas that have made tournament season so magical, but the reality is that we’re still a decent ways away from that so we’ve gotta take what we can get.
This will provide at least some element of the fans impacting games again, and will also allow the conference’s NCAA Tournament bound teams the opportunity to adjust from the empty gym atmosphere they have been surrounded by to this point. It also allows friends and family a chance to see their loved ones doing what they’ve worked so hard to achieve, and that alone is reason enough to bring back fans.
As well as that, looking at this development through the eyes of a somewhat selfish college football fan makes it just that much more important. If we’re able to fit *roughly* 10% capacity into an indoor arena (and more than that for March Madness) at this point in time, you’d think that come football season given the current rate of vaccinations and the waning hospitalization count of the virus we may be able to see somewhere from 25-50% at the minimum.
I know 10% may seem small given how sacred the fan reaction is to the mystique and history of March Madness and the conference tournaments, but it may be a very positive sign in the road to return to normalcy within college athletics.