March Madness quickly turned to March Sadness in an all-too-obvious rhyme to reflect the state of college basketball fans across the country after the coronavirus outbreak caused sports to be put on pause. An unexpected but completely logical side effect of the tournament's cancellation? A few extra chicken wings, of course.
Think about it. What do you order when you're having a watch party at home to make sure that your bracket remains intact and that you're not missing any incredible Cinderella moments? According to Food Network, chicken wings are one of the seven essential March Madness viewing party foods. Pizza and chips are also a part of the list. But while pizza places are always making large quantities of pizza and every grocery and convenience store has bags of chips available, restaurants apparently need to ramp up chicken wing production for March Madness alone.
According to Jessie Higgins of United Press International (UPI), the meat industry is "overloaded with chicken wings it can't sell" because of the coronavirus's devastation and the subsequent stoppage of sports. The fact that restaurants and sports bars are all closed down for the foreseeable future must make matters worse, as well, given that places like Buffalo Wild Wings are known less for the quality of the food and more for the game time environment. The popular wing joint had to completely scrap their March Madness-themed campaign, as well, and are now encouraging a stay-at-home lifestyle with new ads.
Another part of the problem is that although a seemingly reasonable solution would be for the restaurants to push their wholesale wings toward retail locations like grocery stores, buyers are purchasing staple foods like eggs, raw chicken and bread. Additionally, Higgins notes that the re-packaging process for wings isn't "retail friendly" and that Russ Whitman, a vice president in the industry, said that "there is no demand for wings... the demand is gone."
It may be a while before we're eating wings in front of any sporting event. The MLB season is postponed indefinitely, the NBA is preparing for the worst-case scenario of a completely canceled season and several other leagues and events have been delayed or canceled.
Until then, you can eat your wings in front of many throwback games available for free on NFL Game Pass, NBA League Pass and several other streaming services. Also available shortly are the highly-awaited docuseries about Michael Jordan and the 1997-98 Bulls on ESPN, a video game competition involving several NBA stars and a potential rematch between Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson (with potential guest appearances from Tom Brady and Peyton Manning).