Pandemic Forces NCAA to Cancel March Madness

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Sidney Hamburger and James Park

On Thursday, March 12th, the NCAA announced that the March Madness basketball tournaments for both men and women will be canceled due to the recent COVID-19 outbreak.

The cancellation came as a jarring surprise to fanatics all over the country. This is the first time since 1938 that the tournaments will not take place, leaving a hole in every fan’s heart. Diehard basketball fan, CHS junior, and a basketball player himself, Brian McQuillen expressed that he is “really upset” about the cancellation of the tournaments.

“I look forward to these games all year, and it’s heartbreaking,” McQuillen said. But he ultimately accepts the outcome, acknowledging, “I know it’s for the right reason.” 

Earlier this week, NCAA President Mark Emmert initially announced that the games would be played with limited attendance: event staff and family members exclusively. This would have still held the attention of fans eagerly watching from home, as a national champion would be crowned.

However, as a result of the ongoing escalation of the COVID-19 outbreak, the policy of limited attendance was revoked, and the NCAA declared that the games would be canceled entirely. This would also involve all-conference championship tournaments. According to the official release from the NCAA, Emmert’s decision was based solely on the “evolving COVID-19 public health threat.”

Even as the cancellation burns for many fans, alongside them, the NCAA will suffer, too, in regards to massive economic losses. According to Investopedia, in 2018, the NCAA made about 933 million dollars as a result of March Madness, with about 19.6 million fans watching the championship game. Viewership soared from 2018, with an increase of 23% from the previous year. A year without the lucrative tournament will certainly slow the momentum that had been building into the following year. Needless to say, the NCAA will struggle with trying to recoup this lost money in the pandemic’s aftermath.

As all other sports are canceled or postponed as well, fans can only look to next year for a better outcome and the chance to fill out their brackets. The NCAA’s decisions have doubtlessly sown disappointment, but ensure a safer March—fitting, granted that March is already sure to bring madness with or without a basketball tournament to exacerbate it.