Due to the COVID-19, or Coronavirus outbreak, the NCAA has canceled all spring sports and March Madness. Earlier in the week, it was announced that March Madness will go on, but without fans. Yesterday, the NCAA decided to cancel both men’s and women’s tournaments due to the outbreak. On top of canceling March Madness, spring sports were also canceled in an abundance of caution. There is currently no word on whether the athletes will be given the year of eligibility back because the season was just starting up.
Was It The Right Decision?
Canceling March Madness was both the right decision and the wrong decision. It was smart not to have the tournament right now since COVID-19 is beginning to infect more and more in the country, but it was the wrong decision to cancel it altogether. There are more questions than answers with this virus and if they had done “Selection Sunday” this weekend, they could have postponed the tournaments to a later date. With canceling it, there is no chance for teams like San Diego State and Dayton, who have had historic and unexpected seasons, to cap it off with a national championship.
Canceling spring sports may have also been a bit too early. The virus is still in an early stage in this country and there is no way to tell if it is going to blow up or not. The NCAA could have postponed this as well and the student-athletes most likely would not have minded playing their respective sports after the school year, if it came to that. The best thing Mike Emmert and the NCAA could do is give the student-athletes that year of eligibility back.
March Madness brings in millions of dollars for a number of cities every year. According to the Twin Cities Pioneer Press, in 2019, the tournament brought in about $143.9 million for Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, the host of the Final Four. The Final Four was supposed to be hosted by Atlanta, Georgia this year, and they will lose out on all of that revenue. This is a big financial hit for the city as restaurants and stores will not get the number of people coming in that weekend that they thought they would have. All the other cities that host the other rounds will also take a hit for the same reasons.
As the week went on, it seemed more and more likely that the tournaments would be canceled. It seemed inevitable when every conference canceled their conference tournaments within a couple of hours of each other. It is a shame that March Madness and spring sports are canceled, but with the coronavirus spreading like it is, it is best to be safe rather than sorry.