March Madness marks a time that hardcore and casual sports fans gather around TV sets, take “sick” days, and fill out brackets that usually end up in the trash soon thereafter.
The NCAA college basketball tournament has become a huge part of American society, and has brought upon profound economic impact as well.
Jason Simpkins of Money Morning wrote an article after last year’s tournament that highlighted a few economical impacts last year’s tournament had. The tournament produces over 90 percent of the entire NCAA revenue. This has also brought about a big business partnership with CBS and Time Warner to pay $10.8 billion through 2024 to broadcast the games.
In the article, Simpkins goes on to explain how the tournament and TV partnership is bringing in even more money than the Super Bowl, but the money made by the tournament for the NCAA is not the only financial impact the tournament creates.
It was estimated that roughly $175 million was lost by employers because of distracted employees just on the first two days of the tournament.
The tournament has become far more than the now 68 teams in the field. Cinderella teams will still dance their way through the rounds, buzzer beaters will capture conversation and debates will rage on who has what it really takes to be the final team standing.
But, the amount of money that this is now generating is a big factor behind the push towards putting a good product out for the viewers.
It isn’t always feasible, but the selection committee would like to allow selected teams to play close to their hometowns.
The closer the teams can be to their fan base, the more revenue and tickets they will sell to fans. Many people will buy tickets to watch the tournament as it is, but if their team is close it is a lot more tempting for local fans to buy the product.
Some teams are unfortunately required to travel very long distances to play. For instance, San Diego State played in Philadelphia. Many teams were in the same position as San Diego State, but many teams got to play close to home, as well.
Money is a very powerful thing to deal with in this situation. The NCAA has found a formula in this tournament to capture people’s attention and maximize revenue to keep the magic aura alive in March.
March Madness will only continue to grow as parity seems to be spreading across the college basketball landscape. It seems it isn’t as big of a deal to be a No. 2 or a No. 15 seed, as long as the team has the mindset of survive and advance.
With the ability for numerous teams to win the tournament it means that more and more people will start tuning in to watch the madness. The economic impact is very big, and will likely become larger and more profound as time goes on.
Zack Wheeler is a writer for the Arkansas Traveler. His column appears every Tuesday. Follow the sports section on Twitter @UATravSports.