A year after pandemic pauses sports world, things are starting to improve

Reporter: Zach Oliveri

Thursday marks a year since sports were put on pause after a basketball player tested positive for COVID-19.

Now, slowly but surely sports are starting to look like they did before that.

There are some fans in the stands at local spring training games and there will be limited fans when March Madness tips off next weekend.

But it will be a while before local college sports recover from the shutdown.

A year ago Thursday, FGCU women took the court knowing the world was changing, but not knowing they wouldn’t play again.

FGCU will get a little bit of a boost because of the NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments.

Eagles Athletics Director Ken Kavanagh said the university’s cut will come to about half a million dollars.

The emotions of last season when things were unknowable were hard to forget for Kavanagh.

“Seeing the tears coming down the faces of some of our players some of whom who were in a position they thought that was their last game ever,” Kavanagh said. 

The uncertainty surrounding college athletics still lingers on year later. Duke pulled out of the ACC tournament on Thursday because someone in the program tested positive for COVID-19.

While a national power like the Blue Devils can take a financial hit, it’s not as simple for FGCU.

“We had to cut $2 million out of a very modest $13 million budget which was around 15%,” Kavanagh said. 

March Madness will look different this year. The men’s tournament in and around Indianapolis while the women’s tournament takes place in and around San Antonio.

Another decision facing athletic departments is the vaccine. WIll it be mandatory for student-athletes to compete?

“I can’t envision that although not to say that wouldn’t be the case but I think for right now it’ll probably continue to be a personal decision,” Kavanagh said. 

Kavanagh said fans are ready to return to college sports.

“I think by the time we get to next year we’ll see many cases where the resources are rebounding based on the demand of people going to games,” Kavanagh said. 

You can watch the men’s basketball tournament on WINK starting next Friday at noon.

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