Written for The Argo by Elana Augustus
COVID-19 has altered many things in today’s society, one of them being sporting events. On March 11, 2020 the NBA announced the suspension of the 2019–20 season following Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert testing positive for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
In addition to the suspension of the 2019-2020 season, all college basketball programs began to cancel games, and soon shut down, Stockton University included. As months went on, restrictions slowly lifted and games resumed. The New Jersey Athletic Conference announced that due to COVID-19, the conference basketball schedule has been shortened from eighteen games to nine. The start date for conference play has been pushed back to January 20.
I spoke to Kyion Flanders, a shooting guard on the men’s basketball team, to see how he feels about the upcoming season. Before I got into this season, I was interested in knowing what basketball taught him that carries over into the other areas of his life.
“One of the core values that we go by everyday before we play is accountability, that’s one thing that is very important that you learn as an athlete on and off the court, taking responsibility for things and standing together,” said Flanders. “Also staying connected, you should be able to work with people no matter what the situation is.”
We then discussed the things the team has done to prepare for the upcoming season.
“Workout, practice, and drills,” Flanders responded. “Of course everything is limited, we can’t do as much, since the weight room is limited to a certain amount of people. Another thing we do is stay connected throughout the groupchat, to make sure we are all updated with what’s happening with school, and our own upcoming season.”
As we continued the interview, I got his take on how he feels playing basketball in the midst of a pandemic.
“It’s definitely different, the whole switch around from being able to practice everyday as much as we can, being in the gym as much as we can, and of course having to wear a mask is a lot different now,” said Flanders. “We are handling it the best way we can.”
Next, I wanted to know if the quarantine impacted him in practicing and preparing for the upcoming season. “It has impacted us preparing for the upcoming season,” he stated. “We go through our own process whether its getting tested, practice not being all players, and if it is we have to keep a 6ft distance away from each other, so it is a little different. Quarantine has impacted our practices more importantly because we don’t practice as much as we did last year.”
As we closed out the interview I wanted to get Kyions opinion on if the crowd impacts his performance. “A crowd/big crowd can have an impact on my performance more for the reason that if we’re the home team I’m more comfortable, and when we’re the away team l get a feeling of proving ourselves to them letting the opposing crowd know we aren’t bothered and can play our game normally. Another reason would be to feel good winning at the opposing team’s court and silencing the crowd.”
With cases continuing to rise, all basketball fans are hoping for the best for this upcoming season in these uncertain times.