With fans gone, NCAA tournament would be next to go

The madness, the idiocy and the panic accompanying the worldwide phenomenon of the COVID-19 virus has mushroomed. A menace threatening not only the economy but the well-being of institutions, organizations and individuals.

With no idea of how serious and how long the threat will continue to disrupt everyday normalcy and routines. Public concern is ramped up on an ever-escalating basis by the mainstream news media and, often, by politicians with questionable intentions. The media fanning the flames,  a health care analyst on ABC News describing the virus as the perfect killing machine for the elderly. 

Just a few days ago one was scoffing at the idea of possibly prohibiting spectators at college athletic events or other sporting events. Doubtful that the original suggestion was rational or even serious, but committees have ways of drifting into controversial conclusions. 

Right on cue, a group labeled as the COVID-19 Advisory Panel on Wednesday issued a recommendation to the NCAA to limit attendance at championship events, including the NCAA basketball tournaments, to only essential staff and limited family members.

At the same time government leaders and officials at federal medical and health institutions are advising that the risk of contracting the coronavirus is low for the average citizen. Elaborate instructions on how to further protect oneself from the virus are easily available from many different sources.

Apparently, there is little faith in the American public’s ability to follow the guidelines. There is a plethora of state and local officials, along with other civic, athletic and private organizations, some seemingly wanting to outdo each other. 

Contradictory at times, with the Kentucky Governor urging religious leaders across the commonwealth to cancel church services this weekend. At the same time, delaying any decision on colleges and universities and public school systems throughout the state.

The NCAA initially banning fans from attending the 67-game tournament. The inevitable next step would be a cancellation of the entire classic. With the fears and actions of decision-makers doubling down from one day to the next, who would be surprised? Any day now.

In the current atmosphere, the inevitable perception will be that there’s no better way of protecting the well-being of coaches, student-athletes and their families. 

Author: Charlie Springer

Charlie Springer is a former Louisville editor and sportswriter, as well as a public affairs consultant, a UofL grad and longtime fan.