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NCAA March Madness games will be played without fans

Jon Fingas
Associate Editor
AP Photo/John Locher

Precautions for the coronavirus outbreak are about to radically affect how many people watch college sports. The NCAA is responding to the risks of COVID-19 by restricting attendance at championship events, including Division I men's and women's basketball tournaments, to "essential staff" and "limited" family members. You'll have to watch matches either online or on TV, no matter how much of a fan you might be.

The Association didn't say how this would affect ticket holders, but pointed to "behavioral risk mitigation" (read: keeping people out of contact) and the risk to older adults as key factors behind the decision.

It won't be surprising if other leagues follow suit, especially if the outbreak persists long enough to affect sports that haven't started their seasons yet. If there are doubts, they largely revolve around how streaming services will cover games. Some services black out local games in hopes of steering viewers to traditional TV or the stadium. If you're using one of those services, you may not have much choice but to subscribe to another provider if you want to catch a must-see game this season.