Staff Editorial

STAFF EDITORIAL: Don’t Let COVID-19 Win This March Madness, Rambler Fans

Zack Miller | The Phoenix"The team’s success isn’t an excuse to break social distancing guidelines,” writes The Phoenix Editorial Board. “While we might want to crowd bars or gather in large groups around a TV to watch the Ramblers play — at what cost?”

For the fourth time in Loyola’s history, the men’s basketball team is on its way to the college basketball event of the year — NCAA’s March Madness. After over 365 days without traditional campus life, seeing the Ramblers head to Indianapolis feels like the healthy dose of Loyola spirit we all need. 

Several of the editors on The Phoenix Editorial Board were first-years when the Ramblers broke thousands of brackets by making it to the Final Four in 2018. College students, basketball fans and bandwagoners rejoiced and celebrated the Cinderella run. 

Making it to March Madness is just as exciting during a pandemic, but it should be celebrated with a little more caution than normal. The team’s success isn’t an excuse to break social distancing guidelines. While we might want to crowd bars or gather in large groups around a TV to watch the Ramblers play — at what cost?

A small light at the end of the seemingly never-ending pandemic tunnel is shining, as more of the country’s population is getting vaccinated. In his televised address to the country, President Joe Biden promised all 255 million of the country’s adults will be eligible for the coronavirus vaccine by May 1.

As of March 16, Chicago’s seven-day rolling vaccine average is now more than 102,000 doses per day, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health. This number surpasses the previous high of more than 98,000 daily doses, but this achievement is not without its problems, as equipment is low and vaccine appointments are difficult to book.

And even with the hopeful expansion of bar and restaurant capacities, getting through the pandemic is incumbent on people (Loyola students included) making smart decisions — which includes enjoying March Madness in small groups in accordance with public health guidelines.

If Loyola students choose to throw massive parties during the tournament, there could be serious consequences, like Duke University — which is under a mandatory school-wide quarantine after a frat party-linked coronavirus surge. Students at Loyola’s neighboring DePaul University have also come under fire in recent days after several social media posts revealed students attending what appeared to be a large outdoor party, The DePaulia reported.

With first-years back on campus and some university facilities open again, these types of superspreader events aren’t worth it. 

Though COVID-19 case numbers and deaths are decreasing, don’t forget that first responders and frontline workers are still working night and day to save lives — and you could be worsening the situation by causing a potential surge, all for a few beers with your friends.

As with tons of other activities this past year, we’ve found ways to be social and engage with one another virtually. One good thing to come out of the past year of being separated is the influx of streaming services and watch party sites. They’re not only good for watching movies and TV shows with friends and family, but for watching sports. 

The easiest way to watch the games is through the NCAA’s March Madness website or app. You can stream the games after logging in with your cable or streaming provider.

Aside from just watching the matchups themselves, there will also be a Virtual Rambler Rally March 17 at 8 p.m. with speakers including men’s basketball head coach Porter Moser and Loyola President Jo Ann Rooney. Fans can register for the rally here.

Saying most of this country’s population is experiencing “pandemic fatigue” — a mental exhaustion as a result of dealing with the restrictions of COVID-19 — would probably be an understatement. But we’re closer than ever to the end of this thing.

We’re all nostalgic and longing for the before times. They’ll be back, but until then, we can all do our part and be vigilant for the greater good. 

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