San Antonio Is Quiet at Outset of Women’s Basketball Tournament

SAN ANTONIO — Over the previous couple of days in San Antonio, it will not have been uncommon to see a ladies’s basketball crew strolling from its lodge to the coronavirus testing facility at a close-by conference middle.

It can be the largest pack of pedestrians sporting basketball merchandise on the town at the outset of the 2021 N.C.A.A. women’s tournament.

San Antonio shouldn’t be sleepy. Residents and vacationers are right here for the nightlife, meals and heat climate, and there’s a 50-50 probability that they’ve masks on exterior regardless of the native advice that folks put on them on county property.

But right here for basketball? No — not but, anyway.

“Some people have asked where we’re from, what game we’re playing, and know that the tournament is here,” Skyler Curran, a junior guard for High Point University, stated in an interview after her virus take a look at on Sunday.

The first video games of the 2021 ladies’s basketball match tipped off Sunday, days after pictures and statements concerning inequities between the men’s and women’s tournaments circulated on social media, highlighted by variations in exercise amenities, meals and virus checks.

“We all went through the same stuff this year, we all took the same precautions,” Curran stated. “We all work for the same thing every year — and for us, especially, our first time being here, and we were excited for the experience — and for us to get here and to see our facilities and their facilities be better essentially because they are men, that was super frustrating.”

At the lads’s match in Indiana, gamers and workers are examined of their lodges day by day, no journey mandatory, in keeping with David Worlock, an N.C.A.A. spokesman. All of these checks are polymerase chain response checks, that are extra delicate and fewer prone to produce false negatives than speedy antigen checks, which ladies’s groups are primarily receiving.

“With the obvious disparity between the women’s and men’s tournaments, the message that is being sent to our female athletes, and women across the world, is that you are not valued at the same level as your male counterparts,” Stanford Coach Tara VanDerveer wrote in an announcement posted to Twitter on Saturday.

Mark Emmert, the N.C.A.A. president, apologized for the coaching room setup in an interview with The New York Times and different organizations on Friday, calling the state of affairs “deeply disappointing.”

But the variations between the 2 tournaments lengthen past the amenities and testing. Fans should not permitted to attend video games in San Antonio and close by cities till the spherical of 16, Lynn Holzman, the N.C.A.A.’s vp for ladies’s basketball, stated in an interview on Thursday. The males’s match in Indiana has allowed a restricted quantity of in-person spectators from the beginning.

For now at ladies’s video games, six members per particular person in a crew’s journey get together can enter the stadium. All video games beginning with the spherical of 16 might be performed within the Alamodome, which is bisected by a curtain to designate two courts and can enable as much as 17 p.c capability together with workers, groups and followers.

In Indianapolis, the hub for the 2021 males’s match as a result of of virus issues, it’s laborious to show a nook with out seeing an enormous “March Madness” banner draped over a skywalk, a bracket hanging off the face of the J.W. Marriott Hotel or pop-up merchandise stands promoting T-shirts, hats and water bottles emblazoned with faculty basketball insignia.

Not in San Antonio. Signs dangle from lampposts close to the Henry B. González Convention Center studying, “San Antonio Is Tourney Town, March 21-April 4” or “2021 Women’s Final Four, San Antonio,” if a passer-by is shut sufficient to discern them. Police automobiles line places being utilized by the match, however are in any other case unobtrusive.

The airport and lodge lobbies in Indianapolis are adorned with “March Madness” indicators, and there are tables with trinkets on the market, stickers bearing logos and social distancing suggestions. San Antonio provided a couple of ground stickers, official indicators that learn, “N.C.A.A. Women’s Basketball, Team Entrance Only,” and clipboards posting printed-out pages to promote the Final Four.

Precautions, taken in congruence with native well being authorities to restrict contact and unfold of the virus throughout the so-called managed setting, stop those that should not among the many members of athletic applications or officers who would are available contact with them from getting into locations utilized by the N.C.A.A., together with meals supply servers and even lower-level credentialed officers.

Coronavirus circumstances have been trending downward for a number of weeks within the San Antonio space, in keeping with Anita Kurian, the assistant director of the town’s public well being division. There have been fewer than new 300 circumstances on common per day in Bexar County, Texas, within the final week, in keeping with a New York Times database.

Players and workers will keep of their particular person rooms for the size of the match, assembly nearly until they’re headed to the conference middle for day by day antigen testing, practices or assembly room gatherings. Two of the lodges housing groups — a Holiday Inn close to the River Walk and the St. Anthony — take groups all over the place on buses with police motorcades, regardless of distance, in keeping with Paul Jacobs, a journey company worker working the match. All remaining groups will transfer to a centralized lodge throughout from the conference middle for the spherical of 16.

Meals, supplied by the N.C.A.A. or purchased by the applications themselves, are taken alone in rooms, until coordinated in a crew’s assembly room or grabbed within the morning at the conference middle. Teams have some autonomy over how they wish to meet.

Some deal with the isolation higher than others. Curran and her teammates, grateful to be within the match, play playing cards on-line, do faculty work or in any other case calm down when they aren’t collectively.

“The new Justin Bieber album came out this weekend, so I have been listening to a lot of that,” Curran stated.

Natalie Weiner contributed reporting.

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