NCAA tournament without fans? Not out of the question

NCAA tournament without fans? Not out of the question

March Madness is the pinnacle of college basketball. Every year, 68 of the country’s top basketball programs compete in the NCAA bracket to win the national championship. 

Fans from across the world tune in to watch these games, and the hype that is created at each event cannot be produced anywhere else. But, what if there were no fans at any of the games?

This idea is not out of the question with growing fears of the coronavirus spreading in the United States. An advocacy group for college athletes has urged the NCAA to consider holding its winter sports championship with no fans, and the idea has not been dismissed. 

“I think it is a tough decision to make,” said Kyle Brasher, Lady Titans head basketball coach. “I think the NCAA will want to make a big profit with one of their biggest events of the year, but they also need to be smart. That is one outlet that they could take for precautions.”

The games would still be televised on the same schedule as usual, but no spectators would be present. 

“The hype would definitely be different,” Brasher said. “A Lot of those underdog teams rely on the hype to get wins. Having no fans there would definitely take the atmosphere and excitement out of the game.”

The virus has sickened more than 92,000 people and killed 3,100 worldwide, the vast majority of them in China. These numbers are continuing to rise. Nine people have died in the U.S., but most cases have been mild.

“I don’t think they need to stop spectators from coming,” sophomore Noah Bryant said. “I think the people need to be smart and know not to come to the event if they are sick.” 

The NCAA is also preparing by setting up medical sites at each school location and working to help find relief from the growing virus. They hope to be able to carry out March Madness events as usual.

“I always enjoy watching March Madness every year,” junior Ella Kohl said. “If I were a fan going to the games, I wouldn’t want to be limited going if I wasn’t sick. The NCAA can take other steps to help limit exposure of the coronavirus.”

The March Madness Tournament is scheduled to begin on March 15 with the rounds of the first four. The NCAA will need to come to a decision on whether it will allow spectators before this date.