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College Basketball

Charles Barkley: March Madness without fans would be a ‘travesty’

Charles Barkley believes having to hold the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament in empty arenas as a precaution due to the coronavirus outbreak would be nothing short of a travesty.

Appearing on Tuesday night’s edition of “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” Barkley — who has served as a studio analyst for CBS and Turner Sports’ coverage of March Madness since 2011 — weighed in on how the coronavirus outbreak could have regrettable consequences for the iconic tourney.

“You will be covering ‘March Madness,’” Colbert noted, as transcribed by Mediaite. “It starts one week from today. Are we going to see ‘March Madness’ with no fans? That’s just March. That’s just March sadness, man.”

After Barkley got done chuckling, he said: “It would be sad. It would be really unfortunate. Like I say, if you feel bad, don’t come. But it’s such a great event.”

“I tell people, I was blessed to play in the Olympics twice, ” Barkely added. “Other than the Olympics, ‘March Madness’ is the greatest thing I have ever experienced. The last few years we have been covering ‘March Madness.’ It would be a travesty if the fans weren’t there.”

Sports leagues, professional and otherwise, are currently engaged in enacting protocols to ensure the very best efforts are made to successfully navigate the ongoing crisis with minimal disruptions. What’s more, the NCAA is facing “enormous pressure” to confront the complex issues presented by the coronavirus outbreak.

Unfortunately due to the scope, scale and risks of underestimating the potentially massive impact of the coronavirus outbreak, attempting to maintain the status quo could have drastic repercussions.

An abundance of caution arguably is needed at this time, even if the consequences are difficult to accept. Further, it merits noting that in the end, the NCAA, NBA, NHL, MLB, etc. may ultimately have no choice but to comply with governmental directives regardless of their respective positions on how to deal with the coronavirus issue.