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16 March, 2011

Enough already? by Tom McConville

I call it a Dr. Gregory House moment. When you stare at an inanimate object and suddenly the answer becomes crystal clear. Last night, while my eyes were fixated on the Thomas the Tank Engine toy that I had successfully snaked out of our downstairs toilet, I had a realization. I don’t care about March Madness that much anymore.

For as long as I can remember, the tournament was always - always - the unofficial start of spring for me. It was the perfect chaser for the bigger cocktail - OPENING DAY. Now, it feels different.  Don't get me wrong. I'll still fill out a bracket and watch. But I don't know if it will ever get me pumped up like it did before. 

Because my dad went to St. John’s, I’ll be pulling for the Red Storm. And because Duke is Duke, I will be rooting for their opponents. But that’s about all the excitement I can muster.

My problem is this. I liked it the way it was before. When the games started on Thursday. When I had to plan an elaborate excuse to take a 3-hour lunch to watch the early games. When CBS or ESPN would switch to games the same way the Red Zone on NFL Network does. When you could see the look of excitement in Bill Raftery’s eyes before tip off.

Now, everything feels forced. I didn’t even watch the games last night because 68 teams feels like it cheapens the whole thing. I’ve got nothing against TNT or Tru TV. But it doesn’t feel the same to be watching basketball on channels that I normally go to for my Detective Lennie Briscoe fix and “COPS” marathons.

I know it’s all about money, and I also know that if CBS didn’t farm out these games, another group of networks would do the same. But, I despise the way the money and ratings dictate where and when I can watch my favorite teams. Other people have made the same argument better than I can, and I’m sure I’m just yelling at the wind. But there is something nice about keeping traditions – like starting March Madness on Thursday with 64 teams – traditional.

What do you think? Am I on to something, or is this just the first sign of my rapid descent into middle aged ornery-ness?


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