Every year my office has an NCAA March Madness pool and somehow for the last three years I've been the bookie. I know nothing about college basketball. I don't know whose programs are good or which schools have automatic bids or what any of this means. Heck, I picked my favorite player on (Mike's Alma mater) Siena College's basketball team because I'm drawn to goofy looking fellows. (And this player's pretty good at rebounding- the only basketball skill we share since I'm pretty sure he doesn't posses my on-court flair.) Imagine Mike's frustration when I'm bombarding him with questions. March Madness is one of his favorite sports time of the year and he's stuck with this yokel who doesn't really know what is going on.
One of the things that requires constant clarification is who gets into the tournament and why. From what I gather it comes down to how big you are, if you've won smaller tournaments and/or if the NCAA just flat out picks you to be in the whole thing. Mike says it's about season records and schools' history with the program and whatnot. OK, just tell me who has a nice coach and I'll pick that team but the fact that the teams aren't picked on merit alone sticks in my craw. There's one other thing that gets me all heated and that's the fact that the NCAA favors larger schools because that means more people will watch the games on television. Bull SHIT.
When Siena was playing Ohio State, the referees were making fairly unsubstantiated calls against Siena- fouls that they wouldn't call against Ohio and other sketchy behavior. It was infuriating because it almost cost Siena the game- a game they totally deserved to win. I can't believe that it's true- I mean I do believe it but I don't want to believe it. Sports shouldn't be determined by television ratings- they should be determined by who plays better, harder and smarter. (This doesn't apply to t-ball or other youth sports, k? I'm talking high school and up.) All this breaks my heart. Is nothing sacred? Does everything have to be skewed by the all mighty dollar?
It's not just sports that are affected- the Oscars are picked by notoriety and revenue, only Olympic sports that have celebrities are televised, and good television is yanked off the teevee if they aren't watched by the 18-35 demographic. It's all malarkey and a total buzz kill.
This is all the idealist in me. It never really was based on merit. Is anything? Was anything? Money is what makes the world go round. It doesn't have to be this way but it does. And it totally bums me out. Sigh.