Will there be an NCAA Men’s tournament in 2021? Will the March Madness tournament happen this year? The year 2020 was a bad year for the majority of the world. Aren’t we glad it’s over? Sports were paused for months, the MLB played a 60-game season with no fans, and the NFL has fans scattered throughout various states depending on the region.
The NBA pitched the idea of the “Bubble” and absolutely nailed it. It had virtual fans, families for the later rounds, and daily COVID-19 testing. Amazingly enough, there were zero positive COVID cases throughout the entirety of the bubble.
The Super Bowl is almost certainly going to be held without fans, which is going to be so strange. The NBA and MLB were able to crown champions in 2020 and the city of Los Angeles will hold a parade at some point. However, the NCAA Men’s and Women’s tournament, more commonly known as March Madness, was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
For so many reasons, this can’t repeat itself this year. Why? For several different reasons.
NCAA Tournament: Will it Happen?
Yes, money. The NCAA lost around $375 million from canceling March Madness in 2020. That’s a huge and devastating blow to an association with already so many question marks around it.
As is the case for a fair amount of programs in the country, the season is a loss of money due to traveling expenses, coaching salaries, and costs for operating. The NCAA usually can supplement many programs across the country largely due to the amount of revenue brought in during the tournament.
“We’re going to take some hits there,” said Bob Bowlsby, the Commissioner of the Big 12 Conference, per Marketwatch.com.
He said the Big 12 was set to receive $24 million from NCAA, but due to the cancellation only received $10 million. This was the case for all programs and many of the mid-majors were hit extremely hard. In fact, some even opted out of the 2020-2021 season due to budget cuts and financial difficulties.
However, it’s not just the schools and NCAA that faced these hardships.
The host cities love this tournament and for good reason. Fans and teams flock to the cities, rent hotels, eat food, rent cars, fly into the airports, and explore the cities in their free time. The ramifications of a city hosting an NCAA Tournament round are endless, and unfortunately, those cities missed out on that in 2020.
For millions of people around the country, March Madness is full of excitement. Whether you are doing online brackets, doing office pools, or watching your alma mater playing meaningful postseason games, the tournament is full of viewers and drama.
The people want the tournament, and there were some talks of having the 2020 event without fans in a “bubble” environment, but ultimately it got scratched due to the uncertainty of the virus. Bettors across the world throw money away at a ridiculous clip during the tournament, hoping to cash in on a longshot or a 16-seed UMBC winning improbably.
There is nothing quite like the tournament, and the unpredictability of it is second to none in any sporting event.
This might be the biggest concern of them all: the players.
As is the case for some of these players, this is the last time they ever play in a team atmosphere. For some of the players, this is their chance to make a statement to scouts all over the country, and a perfect chance for the draft stock to skyrocket (ie Kemba Walker). For others, this is a chance for the unknowns to become well-known.
The players dream about the “Big Dance” for their whole lives. These players’ dreams were cut short so suddenly in 2020- and that’s not anybody’s fault. The stakes are high, the atmosphere is electric, these players put everything on the line, and legends are made.
The NCAA absolutely did what it had to, especially given the severe uncertainty of the virus during that time. To put the players, coaches, reporters, staff, and all other personnel at such risk would be selfish. It’s just a tough situation for everybody involved. Let’s hope that the NCAA Tournament happens in 2021, even if it means no fans at the games.
The NCAA announced that the 2021 women’s tournament will be played in its entirety in one region: San Antonio. Doing this will help immensely by limiting travel and exposure to the virus. While this might be a logistical nightmare and headache, the NCAA will surely find a way to make this happen.
Then came the news from the men’s side of the spectrum. The NCAA and the city of Indianapolis reached an agreement that the entirety of the tournament will be held in Indianapolis.
To say this is terrific news is an understatement. However, so much can happen from today until March. Unfortunately, nobody knows what the future holds. Regardless of the announcement, the question remains: Will it happen?
Please, let there be an NCAA Tournament in 2021.
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