Thanks, coronavirus. Thanks to the mass hysteria you’ve created — and the complete disregard for the fact that influenza is more dangerous and goes around every year — the NCAA Tournament is officially ruined. Fans won’t have the once-in-a-lifetime privilege of seeing a 16-seed like UMBC upset the No. 1 seed in its region. People slacking off at work won’t get the sense of community and excitement when an entire arena locks in with a Sweet Sixteen bid on the line. We won’t hear traveling student sections go absolutely bananas when Cinderella makes the Elite Eight. At the Final Four in Atlanta, Georgia, we’ll be witnessing the excitement and energy level of an intramural league title game.
What started with Ohio Gov. Mike Dewine barring fans from attending the First Four games in Dayton turned into a complete nightmare.
The NCAA announced on March 11, just days before Selection Sunday, the beginning of March Madness and both the women’s and men’s basketball tournaments, that fans will not be in attendance for any NCAA-sanctioned championship sporting events moving forward, all thanks to you, coronavirus.
NCAA Tournament 2020: No Fans Due to Coronavirus
“The NCAA continues to assess the impact of COVID-19 in consultation with public health officials and our COVID-19 advisory panel. Based on their advice and my discussions with the NCAA Board of Governors, I have made the decision to conduct our upcoming championship events, including the Division I men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, with only essential staff and limited family attendance. While I understand how disappointing this is for all fans of our sports, my decision is baed on the current understanding of how COVID-19 is progressing in the United States. This decision is in the best interest of public health, including that of coaches, administrators, fans and, most importantly, our student-athletes. We recognize the opportunity to compete in an NCAA national championship is an experience of a lifetime for the students and their families. Today, we will move forward and conduct championships consistent with the current information and will continue to monitor and make adjustments as needed.”Advertisement
— NCAA President Mark Emmert
Playing the game is most important. Carrying on college basketball’s tradition of competition creates memories that those men and women will never duplicate. Deciding who’s the cream of the crop is why we love sports, but honestly, I am bummed to my core that these games will be played in empty arenas.
The NBA suspended operations. Major League Baseball followed suit, and the NHL did the same. Media members can’t enter locker rooms, and Italy is canceling all supporting events until further notice.
Listen up, coronavirus. You’re taking lives, spreading your pandemic across the country, and scaring the shit out of at-risk people. Worst of all, you’re ruining the entire reason we love sports.
Community. Community. Community. Community.
Without fans, we’re just watching basketball at the park. From the First Four to the Final Four, these NCAA Tournament games will be way less exciting, and honestly, drops my excitement for March Madness entirely.
This stinks. This just stinks.
UPDATE (March 12, 2020): The NCAA announced that the 2020 NCAA Tournaments — both the men’s tournament and women’s tournament — were canceled. This includes all winter and spring NCAA championships. The move comes after the NBA, NHL and many other leagues suspended operations and ceased competitions until further notice.
Things went from bad to worse to downright ugly in a matter of 24 hours.