By now you’ve heard the Big Ten Tournament cancelled the entire event on Thursday literally as Rutgers and Michigan were in layup lines at Bankers Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. The NCAA Tournament was cancelled as well, after previously announcing Wednesday that fans would not be allowed to attend. Earlier on Wednesday Rutgers made it official that “All Rutgers University Athletics home competitions will take place as scheduled without spectators.” Late Thursday afternoon, the Big Ten cancelled all of the remaining seasons for winter and spring sports.
This is all based on the global pandemic COVID-19 and if your looking for some witty and possibly a joke in poor taste, you’ve come to the wrong place. I’m not here to make light or overreact to the health crisis that is currently taking place. I’ve always been a fan above else and the one emotion I’m feeling in this moment is pure sadness.
Over the past few days, cancellation of events, working from home, no fans at sporting events are quickly becoming a normal occurrence. Hopefully, this doesn’t last too long, but no matter what the duration of these restrictions ultimately become, we are in a moment of time that will never be forgotten. What was considered once normal is no more for now.
As a Rutgers basketball fan, it’s a bittersweet development. And not just that, but all for college basketball fans for all Big Ten teams, as well as likely all programs with NCAA Tournament aspirations. The student-athletes, coaches and support staff have worked years to get to this position, only for it to be taken away. It’s sad.
Like I said, a global pandemic calls for measures that disrupt the normalcy of life and I think that is understandable. You would think that the Big Ten wouldn’t have waited for Rutgers and Michigan to be on the court to cancel the Tournament, but remember everyone is navigating through unchartered waters.
All I know is after waiting 6 years for Rutgers to become relevant within Big Ten basketball, 14 years to see them earn a postseason berth and 29 years to make the NCAA Tournament, my recommendation is to take satisfaction that this program was set to do all of that and above all, they’ve earned respect. We all wanted more from this season after things began to take a special turn in January. However, in the end, we did get something that Rutgers fans have been yearning for. Around college basketball circles, the national media, the recruiting trail and in the Big Ten, Rutgers has earned true respect. That will never be forgotten and will still be present next season with a strong core of the roster set to return.
While the immediate future of our way of life is being changed dramatically by the day, take comfort that the long term future of Rutgers basketball hasn’t looked this promising in a very long time. Thank Pat Hobbs, Steve Pikiell, the players and everyone associated with the program for that. Be thankful and in times like these, try and focus on the positive, not the negative. There will plenty of time for reflection on this season. For now, respect earned will have to be enough for Rutgers fans.