IF there’s one thing that makes me mad about March then it’s March Madness.
Okay, so I better come clean. I wasn’t born in the USA and I didn’t go to college here so I don’t have an alma mater. But while I’ve embraced the NFL, MLB, NBA and even the NHL since my arrival in the States three years ago, I find the NCAA and its annual food fight way overrated. I can understand why some basketball fans prefer the raw, swashbuckling style college hoops sometimes produces. And let’s face it, who wants to sit through four quarters of an NBA game unless it involves either LeBron James or Kobe Bryant? I’m also told that the NCAA tournament appeals to sports bettors, who spend hours agonizing over which team to put in what bracket. No doubt these are the same people who keep me waiting in line at the gas station on a Sunday morning while they deliberate on their choice of scratch card. It’s not the winning but the taking part that counts.
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Then there’s the media coverage. If you tuned into Mike and Mike on ESPN Radio on Monday morning, you could be forgiven for thinking that basketball was the only sport that took place at the weekend. Didn’t someone called Tiger Woods drain an outrageous 24-foot putt on the final hole to win his sixth successive golf tournament? According to most of the East Coast media outlets, this event was of secondary importance to the NCAA unveiling its field of 65 for the Big Dance. Dick Vitale, champion of college basketball and a man suffering from a bad bout of verbal diarrhea, may think “it’s awesome baby” but I don’t agree. Even allowing for the fact that it falls in between Super Bowl and the start of the new baseball season, the coverage is a classic case of overkill. Of course, college basketball is big business these days. Companies spent more than $2.73 billion on network TV advertising during the tournament games between 2000 and 2006. Perhaps that’s the reason why ESPN.com devotes almost its entire front page to coverage of the tournament. Well, sorry, I won’t be getting my white suit out of mothballs and going dancing this year. You may have March Madness fever but I’ve got better things to do on a Saturday night.