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  • Writer's pictureJim Gagen

Old School - March Madness

Updated: Mar 17, 2020


Unfortunately, this year’s March Madness isn’t the NCAA Basketball Tournament, it’s the Coronavirus, Covid 19 or Wuhan Virus (for those not politically correct, who desire to refer to its place of origin). And while inclusiveness is a great thing, this form of inclusiveness - the fact that the virus has affected EVERYONE, is not such a great thing.

Obviously, this is serious for those directly affected who have the virus and while we don’t know everything about this virus, the ripple effect into other areas of everyone’s lives is absolutely shocking.

Cancellations Abound

Starting with decisions to limit public attendance at sporting events and other events, this “limit” evolved to the postponement of the NBA and NHL Seasons, all shows on Broadway, all Major League Baseball activities, The Masters, the cancellation of College Basketball Conference Tournaments, the NCAA Basketball Tournament and all NCAA Sports for the remainder of the school year. Disney has closed all their U.S parks from March 15 thru the end of the month. Many local schools have extended spring breaks, churches reduced their services and many nursing homes have prohibited visitors.


Despite all these cancellations, one has to keep things in perspective. As FDR said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself”. The fear is the uncertainty, the strain on the health system and the impact on the economy. The actual number of people infected as of March 13 is not nearly as high as other illnesses. By comparison, let’s look at the number of cases and deaths for Coronavirus vs. the Swine Flu and the standard, everyday flu on a 3 month basis (as the U.S. has only had Coronavirus for 3 months):

This shows the stark comparison between Coronavirus and these others. So far, the Coronavirus seems far less serious or fatal than these others. Granted, as time by and testing becomes more available in the U.S. the number of cases will undoubtedly go up. However, the U.S. is in a better position than most countries to weather this storm.

The tough question - is it better to be safe than sorry and sacrifice everyone’s convenience and dramatically hurt the economy, or minimize the effect on everyone’s life and keep the roaring economy going and potentially have a devastating national health crisis?

Economic Effect

The effect this virus has had on the economy is profound. The stock market has been a roller coaster for several weeks with an overall decline of 24% between February 12 and March 12. Looking forward, between the cancellations, postponements and closings mentioned earlier combined with specific industries like cruise lines, airlines, hotels and restaurants, virtually everyone will be affected, most negatively. However, some products and services like sanitary lotions and wipes, home entertainment, home delivery and some retailers stand to benefit.

Hopefully the financial pain will be minimal and temporary and those who benefit will not abuse their good fortune for the overall good.


While everyone needs to be responsible for their own personal hygiene, be conscientious of their overall health and their surroundings, we also need to keep our heads, not overreact and understand that our country will get through this. In fact, when this is all over, I think the pent-up demand created by the postponements, cancellations and all, will result in an explosion of spending and the economy will rebound very quickly. Additionally, a possible side benefit to all of this is the experience people and businesses will gain from working remotely, so we are better prepared in the future. Until then, remember the Old School lessons from your mothers and wash your hands and stay safe!

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