Is there anyone out there who doesn’t love March Madness?
Today, the tournament proper began with Murray State drilling Colorado State in Louisville.
Quick! Check my bracket! I did pick Murray State, right? Good. 1-0. Hey, I’m winning my pool!
It’s all great fun. People who never pay attention to basketball all year, pay attention now. The bracket is the be-all and end-all.
But there is a downside.
The explosion of the NCAA Tournament over the last 20 years has reduced the regular season and conference tournaments to insignifigance. We now have, as my friend Jay Bilas has said, a three-week season.
TV ratings for the regular season are falling, and with it attendance at arenas. Duke’s Cameron Indoor Stadium seats slightly over 9,000, and they adminstration had to beg the students to use all of their tickets for many of the home games this season.
The tournament, now is everything. The question is, is that a good thing? The worthiness of a season and a sport is devalued with all of the attention on whether or not you get into the NCAAs.
For the superpowers, the pressure is greater. Now, unless you make the Final Four, your season is deemed a failure by fans and the critical media.
Do you think the Kentucky Wildcats are feeling a little heat? Unless they go 6-0 over the next three weeks, Big Blue Nation will be upset. And goodness knows what they will say about Coach John Calipari! “He can’t win the big one” will be the most used phrase in the Bluegrass Sthat since “Down the Stretch They Come!”.
I’m not sure I have an answer to the problem. But I still long for the days when playing the game, building a team, and developing lifelong friendships and bonds was its own reward.
Here is my comprehensive plan for changing the …
Hold on! Kansas State just won! Now I’m 2-0!