With coronavirus raging out of control, it has affected virtually every aspect of human life – from politics to entertainment to music to sports.
Sporting events typically attract large crowds, typically in the thousands. Those major gatherings are now being shied away from and even discouraged by municipalities. Santa Clara County, where Stanford is based, has banned gatherings of more than 1,000 people for the next three weeks.
With the NCAA tournament roughly a week or so away, anticipation (as well as concern) is on the rise as the main aim has turned to preventing the spread of coronavirus. The National College Players Association, an advocacy organization for collegiate athletes, believes NCAA tournament games should be played in empty arenas to stem the tide of the disease.
In the wake of the emerging coronavirus pandemic, the NCAA and its colleges should take precautions to protect college athletes. They should also make public which actions will be taken and when. Precautions should include canceling all auxiliary events that put players in contact with crowds such as meet and greets and press events. Athletic programs should also take every possible measure to sanitize buses and airplanes used to transport players.
In regard to the NCAA’s March Madness Tournament and other athletic events, there should be a serious discussion about holding competitions without an audience present.
Google just cancelled a summit in California and Amazon is encouraging its employees to avoid all nonessential travel because of coronavirus concerns. The NCAA and its colleges must act now, there is no time to waste.
The NCAA recently formed an advisory panel to address the coronavirus and it did not recommend cancellation of any athletic events – including the NCAA’s upcoming women’s and men’s basketball tournaments. It did stress that it is in contact with the CDC.
The key is for all stakeholders and athletes to practice risk mitigation at all events. At present the panel is not recommending cancellation or public spacing of athletic and related events scheduled to occur in public spaces across the United States.
–NCAA statement (CBS)