When you consider all the high-priced sports writing talent out there in the mainstream media, isn’t it amazing that this 96-team NCAA Basketball deal jumped up on the old radar screen so suddenly?
(Butler University's Hinke Fieldhouse.)
When I heard about it for the first time several weeks ago, I thought it was a joke and simply the product of a slow news day. I should be drummed out of the fraternity for being so incredibly naive. Shame on me.
But more shame on the knuckleheads who will ram this through (or should I say shove it down our throats, to be politically current). In about 10 days the idea went from what I thought was the brainchild of an ennui-riddled sportswriter to a virtual done deal. And nobody much seems to mind. That’s actually the part that bothers me the most.
The frantic grab for every conceivable buck is understandable, if not particularly laudable, but that’s the NCAA’s embarrassment, not ours. But the obsequious rollover that everybody has done upon hearing the news is nearly as bad.
Something that isn’t broken is being fixed, or more precisely, an exquisitely successful enterprise is being substantially watered down in order to scrounge up a few more dollars.
I know I end up sounding like a grumpy old man, which is understandable, because I probably am. But the truth is that something awful happens every time we dilute the significance of hard-won prizes and honors. But the erosion in value takes place over an extended period of time, so we just blissfully nod and go along with all of it.
Go ahead and kid yourself that it’s just the way of the world and ultimately inevitable that dollars rule in all instances, but don’t for a minute believe that it’s also incumbent upon everybody to say silent about the travesty of it all.
Did your favorite movie get an Oscar nomination? Big deal.