OPINION: K-State should do everything possible to ensure a safe environment at basketball games

K-State fans get rowdy during the men's basketball game against Kansas earlier this year. It is highly unlikely we will see a packed Bramlage Coliseum this year due to COVID-19. (Archive Photo by Logan Wassall | Collegian Media Group)

Having seen various approaches to fighting the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic during the fall sports season, Kansas State has yet to share what a home basketball game will look like. We will most likely see a mix of the volleyball and football guidelines currently in place, but that is just a guess.

I have a few thoughts on what could be done in the winter to improve upon the guidelines already implemented.

As far as tailgating goes, it should be taken as seriously as football — not allowing people to congregate in large groups to ensure protection from the virus. Social distancing policies need to be enforced, and mask mandates are a must for home basketball games.

Another big topic has been entry policies. The clear bag policy should be a no brainer, but we should see mask mandates at all times within Bramlage Coliseum. The strict no re-entry policy implemented for football games should also be practiced at basketball games this year.

So far, K-State Athletics has done a solid job at football games by having security positioned well and enforcing the mask mandate. An ideal addition would be having guests’ temperatures checked upon entry.

Limited capacity should play a major role in basketball games as well, with ICAT students and general attendance tickets held to a limited amount. Priority should be given to players’ families as well as guests of their choosing.

Since Bramlage is an enclosed area, making sure seating stays open and sections are not crowded during home games is paramount.

Football does a decent job of enforcing social distancing, allowing the student section three rows of space vertically between parties. However, the current plan does nothing to separate parties horizontally. You could have 15 people pushed together in one-row side by side, while still following the rules of separating vertically to maintain a safe distance.

K-State should do more to enforce that aspect of social distancing, whether it be separating parties entirely or doing it on a one-party per row basis. Another good practice would be reserving the first three rows from the court to maintain a safe distance from those attending the game and the players and coaching staff.

As for media access, I would like to see something similar to how the NBA bubble handled things, operating with virtual press conferences and stationary microphones for players and coaches during sideline and post-game interviews. This would allow media access while maintaining a safe social distance.

In recent weeks, NFL players and staff members have tested positive around the league, because of this, games were moved and players quarantined to ensure containment. If cases rise and an outbreak ensued, K-State should remove fans immediately and for an extended period of time to ensure player and staff safety.

I am not a health expert, but I do know if cases rise, we could see sports taken away again. It is imperative that everything possible is done to ensure a safe environment for everyone at home games. It is a privilege to have sports back and we have to work toward keeping that way.

Connor Cottenmeyer is a senior in journalism and mass communications and a writer for the Collegian. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Collegian. Please send comments to opinion@kstatecollegian.com.