Basketball is Back for Some Fans

By Emmanuel Borrell

“Do you believe in miracles? Yes!” Who knew that this famous 1980 call from Al Michaels during the U.S-U.S.S.R. hockey game would be relevant again 41 years later during a global pandemic.

On February 10, 2021, Governor Cuomo announced that sports and entertainment venues will officially be open throughout New York to fans on February 23 following COVID-19 restrictions and policies, after the success of the first sports event with fans a month prior between the Baltimore Ravens and Buffalo Bills.

February 23 was the big day for New York basketball fans. Both the Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks played host in their assigned game of that evening. However, with the updated policies and restrictions due to COVID-19, the arenas can open at 10 percent capacity. There were many other restrictions that Cuomo enforced for the fans to both return to their normal lives with attending sporting events while maintaining social distancing and avoiding contraction of the virus.

Sporting venues must mandate things such as ensuring that all staff and spectators receive a negative COVID-19 PCR test within 72 hours of the event. Face coverings must be worn. Seating is to be social distanced. All those attending have to submit to temperature checks. “Live sports and entertainment have long been engrained in the fabric of New York and the inability to hold events has only added to the isolation we have all felt at the hands of this virus,” said Cuomo. “Thankfully, our pilot program to reopen Buffalo Bills games to fans was an unparalleled success and now we are taking that model and expanding it to other large venues across the state to not only reinvigorate local economies, but also help bring some fun and joy back into people’s lives as safely as possible.”

Along with PA announcers and fans, workers around the arenas were eager to receive the news of fans attending games again. Brayan Suriel is a worker at Starbucks inside Penn Station, right under Madison Square Garden. He says he feels excited about the fans returning. “It kind of meant that things were slightly getting back to normal,” he said. Being a basketball fan himself added even more excitement. “We could possibly be able to enjoy games in person and feel the intensity of games and rush which is way different than watching through TV,” he said. Suriel also touched on how the fans play an important role in his job by adding income to the company. “We will get 100 plus customers walking into the store before and after the shows and that would really boost our sales,” he said. Lastly, Suriel said the presence of fans has an influence on the environment with their attitude before and after a sporting event or concert. “Their energy was very infectious,” said Suriel. He said when fans would come cheering around his job, people would be happy and laugh, even cheer along with them. Finally, a year later, Suriel and others can witness this again because at the time, he said, because they wore masks, their energy didn’t negatively affect others.

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