March Madness and the chaos it brings

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The March Madness tournament is synonymous with nonstop action, excitement and fun, and it is the best time of year for many basketball fans. Millions of Americans enjoy watching March Madness and for super fans there is nothing as exciting as actually going to a game to watch it live.

Although March Madness is a raucous good time and generates millions of dollars in broadcasting, marketing and tourism, there is an undeniably dark side to the tournament. The cities that host March Madness games certainly see the full range of the tournament and experience both the highs and lows that it brings. Below are just a few of the ways in which March Madness brings disorder to every city that hosts it.

Tourism boost and increased revenue 

When cities are vying to hold March Madness games, they will often cite the potential boost from tourism and increased revenue. Tens of thousands of fans flood into the host cities to watch the games and presumably, many of them stay in the area for a few days, frequent local restaurants and bars and explore the city’s tourist destinations. All of this is quite appealing for city governments and local tourism bodies, and it is the same siren song that events such as the Olympics and the World Cup sing.

However, the reality is that hosting March Madness games has a very minimal impact on the revenue cities take in and can actually hurt a city’s finances. While fans certainly do crowd into a city and spend money, it means that they are offsetting the spending that residents would be doing, as most locals will take steps to avoid the city center because of crowds and traffic. Additionally, cities will usually have to undertake several infrastructure projects in order to host tens of thousands of fans comfortably and safely. These projects divert money away from long-term, sustainable infrastructure needs that all cities have.

Tax payers typically subsidize these events, so it is unfortunate that the reality of the situation is that very little money actually remains in the local economy. The bulk of the revenue will instead end up with the NCAA, broadcasting corporations and large advertising and FMCG conglomerates that are able to take advantage of the event.

Online scams and hacks

Online scams are not location-specific, but they do pose a major problem for March Madness fans and organizers. Every year, there are roughly 3.4 billion fake emails, which are designed to catch the interest of fans, that are sent every single day during the March Madness tournament. These scam emails and phishing attacks are created so that unwitting basketball fans will click on a link and enter their personal information, which the hacker can then use.

Thousands of phony betting sites are also created every year and basketball fans who do not already know better will register on the sites and provide their personal information and credit card details in order to enter a specific betting pool. However, instead of paying out winnings at the end of the tournament, the hackers who created the fake gambling sites will steal the user’s information and sell it on to third parties.

If you and your friends are running a pool or betting on the March Madness outcomes, you should take steps to ensure that you are using a legitimate, secure platform when you do so.

Disorderly conduct

This will hardly surprise sports fans, but the cities that host March Madness games do experience an increase in crime. Hordes of sports fans descending on a city will typically mean that there will be more complaints of disorderly conduct and more public drunkenness. In most cities, this behavior will usually be limited to certain areas where the most popular bars, restaurants and nightlife spots are, but these incidents can still be frustrating for the city’s residents.

Another problem is that thieves and pickpockets know that the March Madness tournament is on, and they will take advantage of it. If a thief knows that thousands of people have come to the city to spend some money, kick back and have fun, they will be on the prowl for any unprotected wallets, purses or mobile phones they can find. However, if you are a fan visiting one of the host cities and planning a weekend of fun, do not worry and do not let concerns about thieves put you off your trip. Instead, just make sure to keep good track of your valuables and those of your friends.