March Badness: the futility of the NCAA tournament and March Madness

March Badness: the futility of the NCAA tournament and March Madness

In the midst of all this supposed "March Madness," lost are those who fail to see the allure of the NCAA tournament. While I know I am part of a miniscule minority, I know there are other sports fans out there who take no joy in the festivities of the annual college basketball tourney. March Madness spoils what little good is happening in the world of sports in late March, and only offers a mediocre product made popular by the ease of gambling on it.

As a young sports fan, baseball was everything to me, so March offered the hope of a new season, and spring training games were somehow actually enjoyable to me. This was more than enough to keep my attention away from a college basketball tournament I knew or cared nothing about. Now, the Blackhawks offer more than enough to counterbalance March Madness, but five-day droughts (such as the current one which will mercilessly end tomorrow night) continue to afflict me in horrible ways, leaving me vulnerable to the onslaught of college hoops news.

Once teenage years came, and the intrigue of MLB spring training wore off- which it does rather quickly- I was left with a gaping hole in my March sports world. Without access to Blackhawks games, and once the Bulls' era of dominance ended, March was simply a void; the sequel to the post-Super Bowl hangover of February. The NFL does a fine job of keeping itself relevant year-round, but clinging to the little bits of news trickling out of league offices does little to muffle the roar of the masses afflicted with March Madness.

"Maybe I'm missing something here," I wondered one day, "Maybe I can catch that 'March Madness' too."

If only I could go back and warn myself. People always say to trust your instincts. I feel like I always remember that best after I have failed at it.

I had truly not given college basketball much of a chance in the past, so I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. During a year with a roommate who enjoyed college sports, and loved March Madness, I did my best to get swept up in the tournament, and it just did not happen. Everything I knew about college sports was simply affirmed; my past experiences and thoughts duplicated. Any exposure I have had since has been the same.

I am a sports fan. I want to see the best talent in the world competing in a sport that they are the best at. I understand that its not necessarily fair to compare college athletes to professionals, but that is the essence of why college sports, in general, are horrible. When I watch football or basketball, I am not interested in watching second-rate athletes competing against each other; a majority of which will never see any time in the pros because they are not good enough. I do not attend Kane County Cougar games (at least not yet), for the same reason.

College sports, and namely the tournament of March Madness, can be extremely competitive, and thus quite exciting. Sports are entertainment, and I could not argue against the value that March Madness holds there. However, entertainment and overall value are not contingent upon one another.

Anyone who has watched more than one consecutive episode of any MTV series since 1998, knows what TMZ is, or has witnessed any of the trends or fads of mankind over- oh, let's say- the last hundred years, knows that what is popular or entertaining can very often simply be flashy crap. I give you March Madness: flashy crap.

Although it may be entertaining, when I watch the NCAA tournament I am still subjecting myself to, at best, mediocre basketball. The competition, and excitement, remain because of the overwhelming mediocrity throughout the association, but competition does not equate to a better product; it's just easier to sell.

People who are deep and avid basketball fans likely have stock in watching the development of young players, while many others simply enjoy the amount of competition (albeit with mediocre talent), which also leads to unpredictability and the thrill of gambling on it. All of this is just coverup though. No matter how unpredictable or competitive the games may be, the product is still just unpredictably competitive bad basketball. All the glam aside, March Madness is a futile effort to popularize bad basketball- although, one might say the millions of fans, and dollars it generates, deems it a success high above futility.

I suppose my point here is that, I understand why March Madness is so popular, I just figured more people would also realize how horrible it is, and thus refrain from partaking in "the Madness." I do not want to rob anyone of something they enjoy simply because I personally would prefer sticking all the NCAA games on the TV guide channel between the hours of midnight and four AM, I just wanted to provide a logical reasoning for those sports fans who cannot enjoy college basketball, whether it's tournament time or not.

At least, I think there are others like me out there... I think. Maybe I really am alone...

Oh well; at least the Blackhawks are back tomorrow night.


Filed under: College Sports


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  • Flashy crap? Not relevant? Second-rate? I think your "instincts" are wrong.

    Then again, NCAA basketball has little kitsch, perhaps, to offer the Ritalin generation. No "Real Housewives" at the sideline, no famous wives or grlfriends.

    So stick to watching TMZ. You'll make a great trend-narrating blogger some day.

  • In reply to Andy Frye:

    I believe you missed my point entirely, good sir. To me, March Madness is the equivalent of TMZ, real housewives, etc. I don't believe I claimed it was irrelevant, either. Clearly March Madness is relevant, I just don't understand it.

    When you watch ANY cloolege basketball, including the current tournament, you are watching inferior basketball. Those players are still in college because they're not good enough to be in the pro's. Competition, gambling, and market-saturation aside, college basketball offers me no entertainment because I do not have any interest in consuming sub-par basketball.

    Enjoy your trendy March Madness; I'll just be happy once it's gone.


    It seems like someone took this very personally. Perhaps they are a college sports fan in denial that it is actually quality sports?? Hmm lets dissect this:

    I have to agree for the most part on this one. I don't watch College basketball. I don't even watch professional basketball, but I can still theorize on the topic. When I first pondered college sports I thought, "Hey college basketball could be even more competitive. These guys are basically putting all their skills on the line at a shot of making it to the big league and making millions of dollars. That's good motivation" And I held this belief until a wise man explained to me that in reality plenty of the best players go straight from high school into the professional teams, or are pulled out of college to play before finishing their college careers. When I heard this that killed the only sliver of a chance that I would ever care to watch any college basketball.

    As for your response Mr. Andy. I will again disagree with you. Flashy crap? What's more flashy than an annually reoccurring, sub-professional week of sports. It is a fad in the strictest sense. Partially because of the second part of this: Not Relevant. What makes this flashy even when professional tournaments of similar fashion are not, is the simple fact that these are not professional tournaments. Winning is always something to be proud of, but isn't always better to win against some of the other best contending teams, well those teams are not going to be college teams. Professional sports will always have better teams, so winning a college bracket might be good, it's not great and definitely not the best, so who cares. And lastly second-rate: I think I already covered that. I think this Adam guy has some good instincts and you are a grumbling lover of sports teams that don't matter, aren't very entertaining, are flashy, and second-rate.

    You tarnish your argument by implying the reason professional sports are entertaining and important is because there are famous girlfriends or wives. If you are going to try and make a point don't use filler.

    But who am I to speak I don't watch any of it anyways, I just think you are wrong and I like to argue. What say ye?

  • In reply to GANDALF:

    Obviously, I agree. Nothing is more trendy in sports than college athletics (save for maybe the Olympics). With players who play one of year of college and go to the pros, transfer schools, decommit, etc and so on, college teams have little synonymy from season to season. This makes caring about a particular team from one year to the next tough for non-Alumnus, or fans looking for some cohesion in the teams they care about. So even if I still want to try to like college basketball, that reasoning is why I'll never be able to.

    March Madness is only as popular as it is because avid NCAA fans have as good a chance as guessing the winner as a college sports rube, such as yourself. Gambling is fun and addictive. When a playing field is that level, it's bound to make its sport popular.

    However, much of the popularity of March Madness comes from those who are otherwise not interested in college basketball (like the aforementioned gamblers, but more-so people who don't watch sports at all but take place in office pools each year, etc). That's why it's MARCH Madness and not "NCAA Basketball Season Madness." Many fans don't really care about the sport, the season, or the players involved; they simply care about their personal bracket each year. If the sport truly offered a quality product, more of the fans that come out for March Madness would be there year-round.

    What's more trendy than a sport which gains its notariaty from a bunch of bandwagon-jumpers annually taking interest in the sport for one-to-two weeks? Fans of March Madness are not necessarily college basketball fans. Of course, I believe college basketball is bad anyways; it's just even worse when it's getting blown out of proportion annually at the end of March. Take away the gambling and lets see how popular the NCAA tournament is then.

    I watch sports to see the best athletes in the world compete against eachother. None of those athletes are on a college roster. It's not professionals playing, keep it: I will never find it valuably entertaining.

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    I don't think it makes sense to call college basketball a sub par product because of talent level. If anything, the one and done laden teams even out with the small school 4 year player types and makes for a competitive brand of basketball that pits a "david vs golieth."

    You are measuring the quality of the game based on talent instead of the contrasting styles of play, back and forth scoring that offers large runs by either team that can be analyzed and understood for their happening and great endings that college basketball in known for. The game has a lot to offer.

    As far as being flashy or not, who cares? If you like it, then watch it. If you do not like it, do not criticize others for watching it.

  • I see your point, but I feel that falls under the category of "entertaining," not "good." Again, I understand that it can be competitive and/or entertaining, but I still find it cheap. It IS subpar basketball, regardless of the level of competition. I would rather watch an NBA team destroy the Charlotte Bobcats than a competitive college basketball game. Competitive teams does not not equate to "good" basketball.

    I haven't insulted anyone for watching it; I just do not understand it. In my opinion, its just another overblown event that has little, or nothing, to actually offer. I find it awful, and I question WHY people watch it, but I haven't insulted them.

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