- The NCAA will be holding March Madness with no crowds.
- Large crowds increase the risk of COVID-19 (aka coronavirus) contamination.
- It is important to understand the implications of this decision, and the reasons behind it.
ATLANTA - The NCAA Tournament will be held with no fans in attendance.
As fears of COVID-19, known as the Coronavirus, sweep the nation, many state government and sporting associations are taking actions to prevent the rapid spread of the virus so that the United States avoids overloading its healthcare system.
States like Washington are banning large gatherings, including the crowds in sports stadiums. The NCAA has taken the most drastic step so far and has announced that all championship events, including both the Men’s and Women’s Division I basketball tournaments, will be held with no fans in attendance with only essential staff and some family attendees.
In other words, March Madness will have no crowds.
Breaking: NCAA president Mark Emmert has announced that all championship events, including the Division I men's and women's basketball tournaments, will take place with only essential staff and limited family in attendance. pic.twitter.com/wauhuBEz4K
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) March 11, 2020
This is obviously a huge deal, both from a public health standpoint and from a sports betting standpoint. Public health is significantly outside of the purview of this website, but sports betting is what we do, and so the implications of this move as far as that goes are pretty interesting.
There have not been many examples of games played without crowds yet, but there are some possible effects worth examining. The first one that comes to mind is that perhaps homecourt advantage might be nullified without a loud crowd roaring in the background. It is common sense that homecourt advantage is at least to some degree derived from the crowd, so perhaps those frequenting sportsbooks might want to disregard home/away splits a bit more without crowds being allowed.
Another possible implication is that players might be unable to play due to illness – after all, the precipitating event for this reaction from the NCAA was the COVID-19 virus, which is highly contagious, and could cause some athletes not to be able to play.
The lesson to take from that, for sports bettors, is to stay in tune with the injury reports and who is and is not active on each roster – it is more important now than ever to be on top of who is and is not playing each night.
Finally, the last lesson to take from this is that this pandemic is serious – make sure you are taking the necessary precautions when it comes to both your health and the health of those around you.