Due to an abundance of COVID-19 caution, Drake University began selling lottery tickets for men’s basketball games at the Knapp Center at the beginning of the semester, leading to growing concerns based on the impact on the atmosphere and health surrounding the record-breaking team.
The men’s basketball team is regarded as one of the strongest in the Missouri Valley Conference, and the 2020-2021 season has proven to be no different–they started their season with an 18-game win streak. In the interest of keeping players and fans safe, the Knapp Center has not been as crowded as usual, leading to questions about whether the lack of an enthusiastic and physically present audience has hindered the team’s ability to play.
Despite limited seating, fans are showing their support for the team in several ways, from participating in the seating lottery system to cheerleaders masking up and cheering during games.
While the process of purchasing tickets and attending basketball games has changed drastically, freshman Alyssa Overlin was able to enjoy a game via lottery tickets.
“One of my friends on campus heard about a raffle that Drake was doing for basketball tickets, so we figured we would try to win,” Overlin said. “We ended up getting them, which was super exciting! We didn’t expect anything to come out of it, but we were really happy to be able to go to a game.”
As a first year student in the pandemic era, Overlin has missed many events that are emphasized and highlighted by upper class students and college graduates. She said being able to attend a game provided her with “a sense of normalcy”.
“Even though the circumstances are quite different compared to a normal year, it is still really important to have fun and show some school spirit,” Overlin said.
If anyone knows about school spirit, it is sophomore cheerleader Emma Brisbois.
Brisbois has been cheerleading since she was little, and since becoming a Bulldog she has had the opportunity to cheer for men’s and women’s basketball and volleyball. Brisbois said she has noticed a definite change in the atmosphere at basketball games.
“It’s definitely quieter! The atmosphere is a little stale because of the lack of people,” she said. “The crowd isn’t easily engaged, so our cheers sometimes fall flat.”
Though this issue has been ongoing for the cheer team, she said that the most important thing is that “the university is taking COVID-19 precautions seriously,” rather than allowing things to go completely back to normal.
While Overlin and Brisbois may have been on different sides of the Knapp Center during games, they seem to be on the same side when it comes to keeping the Drake University community safe and healthy.
“I felt very safe while attending the game,” Overlin said, recounting her experience. “Everyone was social-distancing and wearing masks, which was reassuring to see.”
On the other side of the court, Brisbois is feeling less reassured.
“With students being at games and eating in their pods, taking off their masks or not wearing them properly, it’s hard for me to feel completely safe,” Brisbos said. “A part of me wishes they would limit the audience more.”
Despite the circumstances, the Drake men’s basketball team has soared to historic heights this season. For more information, visit gobulldogs.com.