March Madness: How COVID Changes the Tournament?

March Madness: How COVID Changes the Tournament?

Halle Goldsmith, Editor

It is incredibly difficult to stage such a large event during the current pandemic, but the NCAA has outlined protocols to follow that they believe will help contain the virus and keep everyone healthy. 

First, leading up to arrival in Indianapolis (for men’s) and San Antonio (for women’s), players and coaches were required to be tested for seven days straight and get negative results on each test. Only five players need to be cleared in order for the teams to travel and play in the tournament. 

Despite the lengthy testing period before, there was virtually no quarantine upon arrival. Teams were required to get two negative Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests separated by 12 hours. After these two tests, they could leave their “quarantine.” Iona was seen practicing 24 hours after their arrival in Indianapolis. 

After they have arrived the players and coaches must be tested daily using the PCR tests. In addition to this, everyone is contact-traced using SafeTags. These Safetags can be put in their pockets, on a bracelet, or on a lanyard, they track location and contact with others wearing the Safetags. This way they can find out who came in contact with who, making contact tracing extremely easy. It measures distance and duration of contact, and it emits a warning signal when social distancing rules are not being followed. 

The NCAA also ruled that fans were allowed to watch the games granted they test negative, wear masks, and social distance. The men’s games are filled with fans at 25% capacity, and the women’s games at 17% capacity. 

Despite all the precautions taken, the Ivy League teams have decided to sit this year out due to the pandemic and the worries involving the virus. Similarly, Virginia Commonwealth University has to forfeit the first round due to positive testing on the team. This allowed for Oregon to win in the first round without playing a game. 

All information found on the New York Times and USA Today websites!