Will the Coronavirus Cause the NCAA to Cancel March Madness?
The COVID-19 virus, commonly known as coronavirus, is spreading rapidly throughout the United States and the world. Many professional sports leagues have already taken various precautions to halt the spread of the disease, and March Madness might be next.
The French soccer league, Ligue 1, has banned pregame handshakes between players and coaches.
La Liga and the Champions League will play multiple games without spectators in the coming weeks.
In Italy, Series A and all professional sports have been suspended through April 3.
In the college basketball world, the Ivy League canceled its basketball conference tournament. The Mid-Atlantic and Big West conference tournaments will be played without fans in attendance.
As the COVID-19 panic grows, is the NCAA Tournament in danger of being postponed or even canceled?
March Madness could put millions at risk of contracting coronavirus
If the NCAA decides to carry on with the NCAA Tournament as planned, there will be 67 college basketball games being played in 11 states over a three-week span.
With a virus that is easily spread through human contact surging through the country, gathering massive groups of people in one place is worrisome. Even if a single player contracts the disease they could spread the virus to multiple other teams. After all, basketball is a physical sport.
So many sports leagues around the globe are restricting public access to games and even canceling entire seasons because of coronavirus. The NCAA could very well follow suit.
Some NCAA conferences have already altered their tournaments
Each of the Ivy League, Big West, and MAC conferences have all taken precautionary measures to stop the spread of coronavirus.
“The Big West Board of Directors, comprised of the chief executive officers of the nine member universities, strongly feel that this is a prudent way to help slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus while being sensitive to our student-athletes who have pointed towards playing in the tournament all season,”Dennis Farrell, Big West Commissioner
Earlier this week the Ivy League took more drastic measures by canceling the men’s and women’s tournaments entirely. Yale from the men’s side and Penn from the women’s will represent the conference in the NCAA Tournament.
The NCAA will make its decision in the coming days
On Tuesday, the NCAA released a statement about its plans to make a decision regarding coronavirus:
“The NCAA continues to assess how COVID-19 impacts the conduct of our tournaments and events. We are consulting with public health officials and our COVID-19 advisory panel, who are leading experts in epidemiology and public health, and will make decisions in the coming days.”NCAA
The NCAA will do everything in its power to keep the NCAA Tournament as planned. However, experts in public health will undoubtedly urge the NCAA to keep the country’s health and safety above all else.
That will most likely lead to the NCAA closing some arenas to spectators, at the very least. How far they will go is unclear yet, but March Madness is in danger of not being played at all.