Greetings From The Booth!
First, my apologies for no post last week. I came down with a nasty bug around midweek, and it took me out of the Booth for the rest of the week. No, it was not the dreaded Coronavirus, which has permeated
every facet of our lives these days. With lots of Gatorade and Pepto, I was good to go by Saturday.
I did play the first round of golf of the season on Sunday as temperatures soared into the mid 60’s (while my golf game soared into the high 90’s). The beautiful pre-Spring day brought all the area golfers out of the woodwork, as Sly Fox Golf Club actually ran out of carts. Anyway, the golf was bad, but the fellowship more than made up for all my “wormburners.”
Well, it’s that time of year when we use the word “madness” freely. College basketball’s major conferences are playing their tournaments this week, as we approach Selection Sunday. This has been one of the most wide-open seasons in years in college hoop, and there are a number of teams that can certainly get on a run next week and win a National Championship. Even the favorites have flaws. Selection Sunday is one of my favorite days in sports, as we witness the jubilation of the teams that get into the “Big Dance,” and the heartbreak of those that don’t. There will be a lot of heartbreak this Sunday.
Back to the Coronavirus as it pertains to March Madness. This week’s major conference tournaments are proceeding as usual at various arenas all over the country. And, as of this writing, the NCAA has made no decision about it’s tournament, which starts Tuesday in Dayton, Ohio. The Ohio Governor announced this week that he is asking that indoor sporting events take place without spectators. If the “no fan” edict isn’t mandated, will crowds voluntarily stay away? We’ll see soon how it all plays out.
Meanwhile, time is running out on the NCAA, who maintains that it is consulting with public health experts and a COVID-19 advisory panel, and will make decisions in the coming days. Opinions are wide and varied, with the USA Today even calling for the complete cancellation of the tournament itself.
It is hard to imagine the tournament being played in empty arenas. Instead of raucous cheering crowds, imagine hearing only squeaking shoes, the bouncing of the ball, whistles, and announcers using golf-tournament whispers. Maybe piping in crowd noise on the PA system is the answer, but certainly part of the magic of “March Madness” is the crowd reaction.
The economic impact of cancelling the NCAA basketball tournament or not allowing fans is in many ways more damaging than the virus itself. Yes, we’ll still fill out our brackets and watch the games, and you’ll still see ads for insurance and autos on TV, but the lost revenue for hotels, restaurants, and shops in the cities of the various tournament sites will be significant if not devastating.
This is all brave new territory, and lends new meaning to the words “viral” and “madness.”
Until next visit from the Booth…GO HORNETS!