The Boston University men’s and women’s basketball teams opened their 2021 seasons Jan. 4 with a two-part game series, which sparked a conversation about face masks on the court.
The Terriers played against College of the Holy Cross — the men in Worcester and the women in Boston for game one. The Terriers on the court and bench alike wore scarlet face masks for the entirety of their home and away games, prompting national attention.
The women’s team defeated their opponents 76-54 at Boston in the first game of the series, and the men’s team handily defeated the Holy Cross 83-76 Monday.
The men’s team fell to the Crusaders 68-66 at Case Gym the following afternoon, but the women were successful on the road, winning 72-56 at Holy Cross.
Both Terrier teams wore masks in compliance with the school policy requiring all members of the BU community to wear face coverings when representing the University, which includes playing in away games.
The visiting team was also required to wear a mask when playing at BU’s facilities.
Basketball fans voiced their opinions on social media as videos of the men’s first matchup circulated the internet — some Instagram and Twitter users questioned the necessity of the masks while others defended the face coverings.
The men’s matchup in Boston is reportedly the first game in the current men’s college basketball season to have both teams wear masks.
Men’s head coach Joe Jones said in Tuesday’s post-game press conference he is happy to be playing — regardless of masks.
“I respect the decision for us to be wearing masks,” Jones said. “If they tell us that the mask can help in terms of transmitting disease from person to person, if it can save one person from getting it, then it’s worth it. So I’m all about it.”
Terriers’ junior guard Jonas Harper, who is leading the team in playing minutes this season, said in the press conference masks have very little effect on the team’s play.
“Now that I’ve used [the mask] more and more, I’ve been getting used to it,” Harper said. “We’re using it for a good reason, not to spread [COVID-19], so at the end of the day, it’s the right measures to do.”
Tuesday’s match in Boston was the debut of in-game mask use for the Holy Cross men’s team. In Wednesday’s press conference, Holy Cross’ head men’s basketball coach Brett Nelson said the masks did not impede on the team’s performance.
“Honestly, we’ve practiced in [masks] for four months now,” Nelson said. “Once we got out there, our guys are used to playing with them, so I don’t think it played into the game at all.”
However, Nelson said he will not implement any mask-wearing during Holy Cross home games.
“I’m not going to consider wearing them for our home games,” Nelson said. “I do think it’s harder to breathe, and more than anything, a lot of times it’s just a nuisance … So yeah, we won’t be doing that for our home games.”
Holy Cross and BU will meet four more times this season. Two of these matches will be at Case Gym, and the Crusaders will again be required to wear masks.
The BU men’s team will take on Colgate University in consecutive home games on Jan. 9 and 10. Meanwhile, the women’s squad will challenge Colgate at Reid Athletic Center in Hamilton, New York. BU student-athletes will continue to don masks in each of their contests.