When organizers cancelled the Battle 4 Atlantis in September they picked an interesting replacement: Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
No one really noticed or cared, quite frankly. It was another event to be moved in 2020.
At the time, many assumed that some sort of college basketball season would happen even though there were early signs that we shouldn’t prioritize college sports in a pandemic.
And as far as places to host a basketball tournament? South Dakota seemed better than most. It’s not New York or Texas or Florida or any other state that had seen a COVID surge. Safe? Not entirely. No place is, in a pandemic. But South Dakota’s case count was containable... at the time.
Since September, cases and hospitalizations have exploded in the state. So much so that the president of ACCESS Health International, William Haseltine, called the pandemic in the Dakota’s “as bad as it gets anywhere in the world.” And according to the COVID tracking project, South Dakota’s weekly testing positivity rate is a stunning 58 percent and hospitals are near capacity.
Seems like a great time for basketball!
This year’s Bad Boy Mowers Crossover Classic will feature seven teams and 12 games in three days.
There were originally eight teams slated to play in the tournament. But while writing this piece, one team pulled out of the tournament due coronavirus.
The tournament’s organizers say they can replicate the bubble the NBA used in Orlando. Which is, of course, a load of horseshit.
“You’re not coming into the state of South Dakota. You’re coming into the Sports Complex,” one organizer told the Wall Street Journal. “When the NBA went into Florida in July, that was considered the epicenter of the pandemic in the U.S., and they proved the bubble concept. We think we can replicate that same concept, and we expect similar results.”
But here’s the catch — fans are invited inside the bubble.
Which… means it’s not a bubble.
But don’t worry, masks are required! The 3,250-seat gym will be one of the only places in the state that mandates masks.
That’s because South Dakota’s governor, Kristi Noem, believes masks restrict freedom. For months, she has opposed a mask mandate even as other Republican governors in North Dakota, Iowa, Ohio, and Utah have come around to the idea that masks should be worn. Noam also repeatedly defends constituents who refuse to wear masks.
In terms of COVID, South Dakota is already on fire. Now is not the time to be playing with matches at a college basketball tournament.