The article discusses the economic, socio-cultural, and environmental effects of shuttering the March Madness tournament and suggests that an understanding of the impacts of COVID-19 offers an opportunity to bring about an alternative, more sustainable sports tourism economy. The cancellation of the tournament resulted in the loss of millions of dollars in tourism revenue for local economies and deprived traveler-fans of pilgrimages to arenas, important socio-cultural gathering spaces for American basketball fans. However, it also prevented the emission of a sizable quantity of greenhouse gasses based on our carbon footprint calculated from the previous year’s tournament. Ultimately, from the disruptive closing down of sport and event tourism, a post-pandemic sports tourism landscape should emerge that takes more seriously the triple-bottom line notion of balancing a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions with the creation and maintenance of resilient local economies all while both acknowledging the important role sport plays in society and keeping tourism actors healthy.
CITE: Cooper, J.A. & Alderman, D.H. (2020). Cancelling March Madness exposes opportunities for a more sustainable sports tourism economy, Tourism Geographies. Ahead of press. https://doi.org/10.1080/14616688.2020.1759135