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Fast break: Bubble scenario might be only way to safely play college basketball this winter

Pardon me for interrupting your weekend football prep with some basketball news, but this is something very important to consider.

The Big East, according to Jon Rothstein, is “intensifying plans for a January bubble,” where numerous teams will converge upon a given area to play conference games during a two-week span in January.

There’s not a whole lot of information in this story, but here it is for those wanting to see it.

I have long been of the belief — of the fear, really — that college basketball season will be in major jeopardy this winter because of COVID. This is crushing, honestly, to this huge college hoops fan, particularly after having to cancel the NCAA Tournament earlier this year.

But with coronavirus cases surging to all-time highs in this country, we seem to be getting close to some inevitable consequences — namely that, once again, some of the things we love are going to be taken away from us.

In this case, I’m very concerned that could include college basketball.

So, let me say that I am all for this bubble proposal — for the Big East, for the Big Ten, for the ACC, for everybody across the country.

It very well just may be the only way we will get to see any kind of decent — and safe — national college hoops schedule once the calendar turns to the coldest of winter months.

We can all imagine some sort of bubble situation, such as where and when and which teams. For the Big Ten, obviously Indianapolis and Chicago could work, and perhaps maybe even a Washington D.C. bubble.

The NBA bubble worked incredibly well, with virtually no COVID issues whatsoever.

However, there were numerous complaints from that bubble about families not being allowed in and how hard that made the personal lives of the players.

College athletes are amateurs. They are not paid. They are student-athletes.

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We simply cannot force them into some isolated bubble for months on end and take away every other aspect of their lives, like we could with the multi-millionaire NBA players.

If we want to have college basketball, there will have to be some tradeoffs. That means bubbles of shorter time periods — no more than two weeks really — and perhaps several of them spread out over time.

No matter what the folks running college basketball decide, let me remind everyone once again:

The virus doesn’t give a damn what we want.

It will keep interfering with our lives in many ways, regardless of how much we think we are turning the corner.

In this case, at least, it’s wise to start planning for a very different kind of college basketball season than what we are used to seeing.

That may be the only way we can have a season at all.

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Cory Giger is a 15-year veteran of the Penn State beat and a journalist with 28 years of experience. He has won more than 100 state and national journalism awards during his career, plus he's a voter for the Heisman Trophy in football and Wooden Award in basketball.

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