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Top 10 Reasons Why The NCAA Tournament is Stupid
Each year, like clockwork, the NCAA Division 1 Men's Basketball Tournament imposes itself upon our collective consciousness. We eat it up. It's stupid.
Herein we present the Top 10 reasons why the NCAA tournament is stupid. Oodles of 'fans' who wouldn't know John Wooden from John Glenn suddenly become interested. Everyone fills out a bracket or six. The entire system represents an epitome of stupidity rivaled only by the NCAA Division 1 Women's Basketball Tournament, but that's another topic for another rant.
10. The 'play in' games are stupid
Instead of adding another round of games and keeping the number of teams as a power of 2 (64 teams doubles to 128 teams), the NCAA saw fit to add 4 play-in games in Dayton, Ohio. These games aren't actually part of the real tournament. Anointing the games as "Round 1" does little to increase interest beyond the players unfortunate enough to be traveling to central Ohio in March. The games are so insignificant that tournament brackets filled out by amateur enthusiasts don't even include them.
9. The Cash Grab is Insipid
Every school in the tournament reaps over 1 million dollars simply for showing up to play. This windfall represents the majority of the athletic budget for some of the also-ran schools that shouldn't be playing Division 1 basketball anyway. Their entire financial season depends on making it to the Big Dance.
8. The Qualifiers are Boorish
Unbelievably, it's possible to get into the tournament with a losing record. Simply by winning a postseason conference tournament (another stupid money-grubbing event), a school can erase 3 months of futility and 'earn' an invitation to the NCAA tournament. Getting hot for 3 or 4 games over a long weekend does not justify a slot in the final 64, but somehow it does.
7. The Arenas are Stupid
NCAA Final Four games are played in football stadiums. Fans are far enough away from the action as to be in another time zone. Overpriced tickets in the upper regions of the arena should include oxygen masks and telescopes.
6. The Athletes are Hardly Students
Referring to participants as Student-Athletes is akin to describing paleontologists as zookeepers. When the tournament ends, top players simply stop attending classes and continue preparing for the NBA Draft. Most of them enrolled with absolutely no intention whatsoever of earning a college degree. The NCAA claims to penalize schools for meager graduation rates, but somehow the same schools continue to show up in the Final Four.
5. The Selection Process is Silly
Indianapolis, Indiana hosts a gathering of anointed NCAA servants who secure themselves in a room with free ice cream and arbitrarily arrange the tournament field. Of course, they permit tiny glimpses into their mystical process to placate press representatives and inveterate gamblers. Simply adding one additional round of games would permit every team to play. Of course, that would usurp the fleeting power of The Committee.
4. The Television Coverage is Stupid
In this made-for-TV event, timeouts during play are measured by calendars instead of stopwatches. A 'media timeout' is mandated after every 4 minutes of play. Referees will actually stop the game if the clock runs too long between these planned stoppages. Fans can count on preparing a 4 course meal before play resumes as interminable commercials stream through their 70" flat screens.
3. Bracketology is Stupid
Talking heads in $100 suits pontificate over who is 'in' and who is 'on the bubble.' Breathless fans listen for mentions of their favorite basketball factories/schools. Entire cable TV networks dedicate prime-time programming to predicting how the brackets will be populated by The Committee. One head takes the position that selections are fair, the other head assumes a contrary stance. Tomorrow they swap.
2. Tickets are Absurdly Expensive
A quick check on eBay confirms that a single seat for the Final Four costs upward of $5000. Tuition at some of these schools costs less, unless you actually want to buy the books as well. Only the richest boosters and sponsors are sufficiently privileged to obtain decent seats.
1. The Coaches are Deified
Sure, basketball strategy is akin to planning the Normandy Invasion, but keep in mind that an NCAA Division 1 basketball coach holds sway over 15 teenagers who are beholden to him for their livelihood. Scholarships are renewable on a yearly basis. Without this gig, these kids would have to go to class and find their way to the Student Union without a tutor.
Wearing a silk suit and yelling at young men hardly equates to being CEO of General Electric. Media sycophants would have us believe that D1 coaches are deep-thinkers who grace basketball courts because theoretical physics no longer challenged.