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Boston University, Holy Cross Teams Wear Masks In Basketball Game

NOEL KING, HOST:

Athletes and their coaches have tried to compete safely during the pandemic with varying degrees of success. Yesterday, the men's basketball teams from Boston University and Holy Cross played while wearing masks. Here is Esteban Bustillos from member station GBH in Boston.

ESTEBAN BUSTILLOS, BYLINE: College basketball without fans can feel like a shell of its normal self, easily heard here in the quiet BU gym.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Run here. But a reach-in steal by Judson Martindale, and he'll get the easy two.

BUSTILLOS: Also different, both the BU Terriers and Holy Cross Crusaders wore masks during gameplay. While some high school basketball teams already do it, it's believed to be the first time two teams have donned masks in the Division 1 men's game. After the contest, which the Crusaders won 68 to 66, Holy Cross head coach Brett Nelson wasn't fazed.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

BRETT NELSON: You know, we practiced in them for four months now. And, you know, it's very unusual, this whole pandemic. But honestly, 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.

BUSTILLOS: Holy Cross senior guard Austin Butler admitted there are different logistics involved in playing a real game masked up.

AUSTIN BUTLER: And, you know, it's hard to breathe. Sometimes, they fall down. And they get sweaty. And they're hard to stay up.

BUSTILLOS: BU requires masks in all shared spaces on campus, including athletic events, for everyone. BU's been practicing with them since September. It's an extension of the uniform for junior guard Jonas Harper.

JONAS HARPER: At first, it was a little irritating. But now that I've used it more and more, it's - I've been getting used to it. And we're using it for a good reason. So at the end of the day, it's the right measures to do.

BUSTILLOS: Face masks during games, that's new as the coronavirus continues to reshape how sports are played.

For NPR News, I'm Esteban Bustillos in Boston.

(SOUNDBITE OF PETE ROCK'S "NO TEARS (INSTRUMENTAL)") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.