Originally published: Oct. 17, 2009 @ The Atlantic Coast Constant
CHAPEL HILL, N.C.—After taking in nearly three hours of “Late Night with Roy” at North Carolina’s Dean E. Smith Center on Friday night, I realized something.
I was bored out of my mind.
Yes, the beginning of basketball season is a big deal at UNC, as well as many other ACC member institutions.
And yes, a skit-filled joke of a “practice” can be a welcome distraction from a football team that is failing to live up to preseason expectations. But is all the hoopla over hoops in October worth it? Is this why Billy Joe Armstrong wants to be woken up when September ends? To see this? I would hope not.
If ESPN’s Stuart Scott’s estimate was right, nearly 18,000 blue-clad fans were in the Dean Dome to watch practice.
Not a game. Not a game. Practice. We talkin’ ‘bout practice, man!
And it’s not even really that. Sure, a 20-minute, running-clock scrimmage is tacked on at the end. But calling “Late Night” a practice is a stretch that Mr. Incredible would have a hard time making.
I don’t doubt that some or even most of the fans that attend the event have fun. And I have even fewer hesitations in saying that the players really look to be enjoying themselves. But with the real start of the season—the first games—still about a month away, and divisional football races heating up, should the universities put such an emphasis on basketball now?
Obviously, they believe they should...because they do. But with “Basketball school/conference” talk already irking UNC, Duke, and ACC fans in general, why further push football aside just when the season really is getting interesting?
At least at UNC one would think that the football team could make an appearance. The gridiron Tar Heels are on a bye week...and they do play Florida State next Thursday on national television. But no, a brief mention from Scott was all Butch Davis’ crew got.
Maybe he didn’t want to be there. But if I had to bet—and had a willing taker—I’d bet the farm Dick Baddour never even approached Davis about a potential football presence at “Late Night.”
Before I fall off this soap box, I have to confess that as a child growing up a UNC fan, “Midnight Madness” (as it was then called because of the scrimmage’s 12:00 start time) was something I always dreamed of attending—though high school football games prevented that.
I think the old name fits it better. Because putting this much emphasis on a sport whose conference season doesn’t start for around two and a half months can’t be described as anything but mad.
OK, batty, nuts-o and the like work, too. But I couldn’t resist the temptation.
So for those of you who went to “Late Night” or any other season-opening hoops practice and came away thinking, “Wow! That was awesome! I can’t wait til next year’s!”, think about that. And for any of you who had forgotten completely about football—at least temporarily—ask yourself "Why?”
Daniel Price is the creator and editor of The Atlantic Cost Constant (http://www.acconstant.com). Read the latest ACConstant.com columns, including "Wasn't FSU-UNC supposed to be a big game?" at our Constant Comments page.