Thursday, March 18, 2010

Rant #214: March Madness Is Just That

As you probably know if you follow this blog, I love basketball.

Even though they are awful, I am a big Knicks fan, and a big NBA fan.

But I do not like college basketball. I know that most of the pros come from college, but I just don't like watching college basketball. To me, it's like watching minor league baseball. It may be close to the real thing, but it isn't the real thing, not by a long shot.

So this is a bad time for people like me, because we are now in the middle of "March Madness," that insane time when just about every college and university in the United States is competing for the NCAA basketball championship.

And, of course, when you have so many teams competing for this prize, you have all the phony fans all of sudden getting interested in teams they never heard of, because they are in some betting bracket at work and hope to win a nice amount of money if their team goes all the way.

I really can't stand this type of behavior. I can see if you follow college basketball all year, but to get into it right now simply because you have placed money on its outcome to me is a bit nuts.

And that is why this nonsense is so popular. Just like events like the Super Bowl, there is a heightened awareness of the event not because of increased interest, but because of the uptick in betting that occurs now.

But we, as a society, play into this.

Why manufacturers are allowed to get into the NCAA tournament and make a buck off of it is beyond me.

Remember, these are supposed to be college kids going to college for an education. I know, I know, that isn't really what they are there for, but, well, that is what they are supposed to be there for.

If a handful of these kids move onto playing professionally, it will be a lot.

And what happens to the other ones, the ones whose basketball careers crest with this tournament? What happens to them?

Well, one example is a story that happened near me, where a kid who competed just two years ago in the NCAA tournament was picked up for being part of a heroin ring.

No, I am not saying that this is the way that those not going pro will go, but it is an example of high expectations softened by reality.

There is nothing wrong with college athletics, as long as they are kept within the athletic mode. With all the posturing, manufacturer participation--including giveaways, contests, and the like--and betting, the NCAA tournament has nothing to do with athletics anymore.

And anybody who thinks it does is as foolish as the NCAA itself, which is allowed to get away with this because it polices itself, and does a real bad job of it.

Nobody wins here. Even our President makes his top picks.

What can you do?

Do like I do. Ignore it. Ignore all the phony "interested" talk at work. Watch something else.

It has worked for me, it can work for you.

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