If you’ve been looking for positive signs — and haven’t we all? — that the coronavirus pandemic may soon be behind us, look no further than the campus of Danville Area Community College today.

The National Junior College Athletic Association’s men’s Division II basketball championship tournament tips off today at DACC’s Mary Miller Complex, and the community couldn’t be collectively happier to see this event back on Danville’s east side.

The NJCAA championship resumes its run at DACC after the cancellation of last year’s event due to the rapid onset of COVID-19 around the world. There’s no doubt Danville missed its tourney visitors last year and are anxious for the event to return.

That’s not to say everything goes back to the way it was two years ago. Far from it. COVID-19 protocols will be in place at DACC as the tourney works its way toward the grand finale on Saturday evening. There is a limit to the number of spectators being allowed in the gymnasium complex during tourney sessions. The health and welfare of tourney participants, visitors, staff and volunteers is of utmost importance. And that’s how it should be.

As our reporter Marvin Holman explained in a story published on Saturday, spectator capacity at the DACC gymnasium will be 25% of its total, which means 240 fans can be allowed for each game. And while few fans from the community will be able to attend games, the impact of having the teams and at least some of their fans on hand will boost local businesses, especially those that rely on some degree of tourism and transient activity during the course of the year.

Competition among the 16 teams is expected to be fierce. Opening rounds begin this morning, with games played each day through Saturday evening, when a national champion will be crowned.

Players and coaches from the teams won’t have the opportunity to interact with the community in the same way they have in the past, but we know they would if they could. This year will be a great event nonetheless, and next year, when COVID-19 is hopefully well behind us, promises to be even better.

We join the community in welcoming our visitors to Danville for the NJCAA Division II men’s tournament and wishing everyone a successful and enjoyable stay.

We know the teams will do their best while they are here, and we’re certain Danville will do its best to make sure you leave with positive memories.

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