March Madness is making a return! According to the NCAA, fans will be present for every round of the men’s tournament. Though, only later rounds of the women’s tournament will have spectators, starting with the Sweet 16.
Teams and fans usually travel around the country. Yet, for the first time, all games will be held primarily in one city. The men’s tournament will take place in Indiana and the women will play in San Antonio. Arenas will be at as much as 25 percent capacity for the men’s games and 17 percent for the women’s, with masks, social distancing and testing in place for entry.
When the announcement was made that the men’s tournament would take place in Indiana, a poll was done by a local Indiana outlet, IndyStar. IndyStar sports ran a 24-hour Twitter poll asking: “If the NCAA were to allow fans for the tournament, would you feel comfortable — COVID-19-wise — going?”
Nearly half of more than 500 respondents, 48%, answered “absolutely.” Another 29% said it “depends on the rules/capacity.” And 23% replied “no way.” In a similar Facebook poll, 54.3% said “absolutely,” 38.2% answered “no way,” and 7.5% said it depends on rules and capacity.
Capacity will include all participants, essential staff, up to six family members of each participating team’s athletes and coaches. The number of fans will also be reduced. All fans must wear face coverings and physically distance during the event. Thorough cleaning, disinfecting and safety measures will be a priority in all venues.
For players, before arriving in Indianapolis, everyone must have seven consecutive negative COVID-19 tests. If any of the tests yield a positive result, the person will not be allowed to attend the tournament until he has completed a period of self-isolation.
Although the setup and precautions look promising, only time will tell if this ends up being a successful strategy. This is a good but bold move by the NCAA. Coming off the cancellation of the tournament in 2020, the NCAA had to adjust their approach to regain the excitement for its biggest event. With the tournament rapidly approaching, we recently completed a website to help a client drive brand awareness during the tournament. Need help with your brand awareness? Pass us the ball and we’ll take a shot!