Students miss fan interactions at NBA games

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Photo credit Advaiit Iyer

Eight-grader Vishwa Makesh is optimistic about the future of the NBA.

Advaiit Iyer and Trevor Wolff

“The NBA bubble will be back and better than ever,” said Vishwa Makesh, eighth-grader at Rachel Carson Middle School.

The National Basketball Association Bubble, also known as the Disney Bubble or Orlando Bubble, is a campus created by the NBA to protect its players from coronavirus and allow them to complete the remainder of the 2019-2020 NBA season as well as the playoffs. However, the NBA is taking a different approach by ditching the bubble and allowing teams to play on their own courts with little to no fans in attendance.

This NBA season was like no other, with a nearly four-month hiatus stopping the league’s play. That forced the league to make a bubble so that there could be play and no spread of COVID-19, because there were some huge changes, like no fans allowed. 

“Fans create the wow factor,” says RCMS student Rohith Yelisetty.

With the new bubble, how they showed fans had changed a lot, from fake noise to hundreds of screens showing it was very different. 

“I think people didn’t care about the NBA during the bubble phase,” Rohith says.

There was much less fan interaction in the bubble than with pre-COVID NBA, instead of having to block out thousands of screaming fans when trying to make free throws. It’s just a couple of screens with small distractions and fake noise.

With a lot of uncertainty surrounding this next NBA season, fans definitely have a lot of ideas about what they think should happen. Justin Gutkowski, an eighth-grader at RCMS, wants something similar to the bubble in terms of safety of the players but wished they had more courts to play on and better fan interaction.

“There were some major drawbacks,” said Kendall Jones, an eighth-grade student at RCMS. He has ideas on how it could improve, which includes removing division and conferences from the league and having the 16 best teams make the playoffs with the one seed versing the 16th seed and so on.

Vishwa believes that the NBA will have a much better season than last season because he believes the NBA can learn from what they did well and what they did badly and capitalize on the moment.

Last season’s NBA finals hit all-time lows in numbers since the NBA started televising the finals, with 7.5 million average viewers. Although that may seem like a lot, the Bulls vs. Jazz finals in 1998 had an average viewership of more than 29 million viewers.

Justin Gutkowski said that he was watching the National Football League instead of the NBA. This is because due to COVID-19, the end of the NBA season was delayed causing it to compete for viewership with leagues like the NFL and Major League Baseball, which the NBA was not used to.

Rohith says, “They are killing the vibe with no fans.” He hopes that the NBA can improve on this in the upcoming season.