Basketball might happen. It also might not, but let’s be optimistic for a moment. Assuming that the league doesn’t play in a bubble and there are home games, the very first thing that Xavier is going to want to do is get fans back in the Cintas Center. Xavier has something of a reputation as a daunting place to play a game, and the Musketeers won’t want to give that up. (KenPom has Xavier listed as having the 158th best home court advantage in the nation, for what that is worth.)
But getting a large number of people in a small space is something that hasn’t happened in this nation for a long time. FC Dallas attempted to have a crowd for a soccer game last week. The club limited attendance to 5,000 and forced anyone who attended to sign a waiver that they would not hold the club or MLS responsible if they came down with Covid-19 as a result of attending the match. 2,912 people came to the game and were essentially socially distanced simply by the fact that Toyota Stadium’s capacity is over 20,000.
That won’t be as possible inside the Cintas. For starters, a soccer or football stadium is likely outdoors. No virus spreads as well in the great outdoors, so that environment is by its very nature more safe. It doesn’t seem likely that Big East games will suddenly take to the Rucker, so that’s out. Also out is full capacity. That simply isn’t going to happen until the 2021-22 season starts at the very earliest.
That leaves X possibly looking at some sort of hybrid plan in which seats are assigned, rows are blocked off, and the Cintas is filled to a fraction of capacity. The student section will not be a thing. (The idea that college students will make good decisions with this thing is laughable at best, but I digress.)
So what would a game look like if there are home games this year? Seating like the paragraph above mentions. You might be able to sit with family members, but fist bumping after big plays with Doctor Rock is going to be out because he’ll be a section away. Bathrooms are going to have to either completely closed or carefully monitored. There will not be vendors walking and it seems highly unlikely that concessions will be open. If you are in the building, you’ll be in a mask. Will cheering be allowed? Hard to say. It seems like even a small gathering of people expelling droplets will be discouraged.
If all of that is in place, would you back to a game? Would you want to? Part of the draw of sporting events is the experience of being in the crowd. Even watching on television is a weird experience without a crowd. These are strange new times. The relative normalcy of taking in a game will change with them.