Thursday, March 17, 2011

Basketball Jones

In six and a half years of doing this blog, I don't think I've ever totally dedicated an entry to basketball.  That changes today.

I'm not a fan.  The NBA needs to get a handle on the last five minutes of a game, which take 45 minutes to play.  There are too many fouls and time outs.  It's maddening.  The college game is in the same boat, but not quite as bad.

There were a couple play-in games this week, but the NCAA tournament really gets rolling today.  For many years, I worked at the CBS station here in town.  I used to venture out to the lobby to watch our poor receptionist on the first day of the tournament, when CBS would run afternoon games.  That sweet, but unfortunate woman would have to field call after call after call from loyal "daytime drama" viewers, upset the sopas were off the air.  I could hear her response in my head, to this day.  "It's a CBS decision, not a local one.  The soaps will pick up on Monday, where they left off yesterday.  You won't miss a thing.  We can't re-broadcast the soaps because they're not being broadcast in the first place."  There is a place in heaven for that woman, based on just that one NCAA week per year.

The tournament is a little different this year because the Turner networks have some of the early round games.  That's good, because you'll see every game in its entirety.  That's bad, beacuse I used to enjoy when the network switched from bad games to good ones, including some buzzer beaters.  The "excitement" factor has dropped considerably.

Turner is using its NBA teams to do the college games, and that has former coach and broadcaster Billy Packer upset.  He doesn't think the NBA guys can call college games because they haven't done a college game all season.  Billy, did you ever hear of studying?  You're a former educator.  You should know that.  Back in the day, I was sideline reporter for high school football games.   I reported from college basketball games, and even worked a couple minor league basketball games.  Reporting from Red Barons games fell on to my plate while I was on the radio.  Sports is not my specialty, so I read everything I could get my hands on.  I was part of a chat with the coaches before the game.  If you do your homework and prepare, you can do anything.

I love the way ESPN is saying bad things about the tournament selections.  ESPN lost the bidding for the tournament last year.  Do you think that has something to do with it?  Would ESPN still be as critical if the tournament was on their networks?

There's no doubt CBS/Turner will do a great job.  ESPN, on the other hand, knows how do to publicity and promotion across all its platforms-- TV, radio, internet, magazine, mobile.  The NCAA followed the money, and I can understand that.  ESPN, in the long run, might have been the better choice.

And, that's the way the ball bounces.