When Brandon Margolis's second child was born 15 months ago, he and his wife knew almost immediately their family was complete.

They'd been through rigorous IVF (in vitro fertilisation) to have two daughters, and wanted to avoid an unexpected pregnancy. Margolis, a television writer in Los Angeles, started looking into getting a vasectomy.

Standing at the counter at his doctor's office in January to schedule the procedure, he grabbed his phone and searched for the dates of the first weekend of the NCAA tournament.

Florida State players listen as the NCAA college basketball games in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament were cancelled due to coronavirus. Photo / AP
Florida State players listen as the NCAA college basketball games in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament were cancelled due to coronavirus. Photo / AP

When the scheduler found an appointment opening for March 20, a day when there was supposed to be wall-to-wall college basketball on TV, Margolis, 39, responded, "That's my day."

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His operation is still on as scheduled, but there won't be any basketball - or nearly any live sports - to watch while recuperating.

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Nearly every major North American sports organisation this week cancelled or postponed its scheduled competitions because of the outbreak of the novel coronavirus.

That's been, um, deflating for male sports fans who scheduled vasectomies to coincide with March Madness.

Urologists have long seen a spike in appointments for the surgery timed to the tournament's tip off. Doctors generally prescribe 48 hours of bed rest after patients get snipped, a period a great number of men choose to spend on the couch or in bed watching hoops while hoping their brackets don't get busted.

"There are some men that specifically come in leading into March Madness because in their mind they say, 'I'm going to spend the weekend watching basketball anyway. This will be great,'" said Brad Lerner, president of Chesapeake Urology and chief of urology at Union Memorial Hospital in Baltimore. "We probably get more requests to do it around the March Madness weekends than around any other sporting event."

Lerner said vasectomy appointments nearly double in March each year, compared to the average month. Some patients instead choose to schedule the procedure around the Masters in April, golf's first major tournament of the calendar, or to match up with big football weekends in the autumn.

One of Lerner's patients, Glenn Clark, began discussing a vasectomy with his wife a year ago after the birth of their second son. They went back and forth for a while, thinking about having one more child and hoping for a girl, when his wife made up her mind: She didn't want to be pregnant again.

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"I told her then, 'This is going to sound corny, but a lot of guys have [vasectomies] done around the NCAA tournament, and I'll do it then," said Clark, a 36 year-old Baltimore sports radio host.

He also picked March 20 with the tournament in mind. His mother-in-law agreed to take his boys for the weekend, he said, and he used the upcoming surgery as a bit of running commentary on his radio programme.

And then the coronavirus hit. He said he's lucky he has movies saved up on his DVR ready to go, and he's considering binge-watching all 10 seasons of "Curb Your Enthusiasm" instead of the sports he planned to enjoy.

Balls are removed from the court after the NCAA cancelled basketball games across the US. Photo / AP
Balls are removed from the court after the NCAA cancelled basketball games across the US. Photo / AP

Lerner said he has five operations scheduled for Friday - each procedure takes about 15 minutes - and none of the patients has yet cancelled or rescheduled for next March.

"That'd be a tough sell to your wife to say, 'Honey, you need to use birth control for another year. I'm postponing my vasectomy for another year for the next NCAA tournament,'" Lerner said.

Cody Wills, an elementary special education teacher and basketball coach in Campbellsville, Kentucky, had his vasectomy set for March 18. He and his wife decided that with three daughters, ages 5, 3 and 8 months, they didn't want any more children.

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Other teachers and coaching buddies joked to him that if he had the surgery on the Wednesday before the tournament, he'd be out of school for two days and could take advantage of four straight days of basketball. He scheduled the appointment in February.

But ever since, said Wills, 28, he and his wife haven't been so sure they don't want one more child in a year or two. When NCAA President Mark Emmert cancelled the tournament on Thursday, Wills said it felt like a sign that they needed more time to think about it.

He cancelled his surgery that afternoon.