March Madness: Is It Now the Most Dramatic American Sporting Event?

Lake CruiseAnalyst IMarch 4, 2011

April 5, 2010: Mike Krzyzewski directs his team in Indianapolis.  He won his fourth championship at Duke.
April 5, 2010: Mike Krzyzewski directs his team in Indianapolis. He won his fourth championship at Duke.Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Which amateur event starts in March and ends in early April? If you guessed Tiger Woods’ golf swing, or one of his flings, then perhaps you shouldn’t be reading this column. 

The 2011 NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship kicks off every year in late February-early March and ends this year on April 4 in Houston, Texas. 

Coming out of the woods to watch and attend college basketball games—like Americans always do about this time—it’s March Madness.

It’s time for airports buzzing with travelling columns of basketball teams, school officials, alumni, students, families, fans and frenzied flight times. 

There will be strict deadlines for the media and unfortunately some rushed and half-written stories. Digger Phelps’ candy-colored ties and matching highlighter ensembles—March Madness at its most colorful. 

Upsets at the buzzer and blowouts in the first round are usually the norm. It’s Clark Kellog, Jim Nance and the theme music leading into commercial breaks. 

It’s seeing ticked-off coaches on national television venting their anger over their teams being left out of the tournament—March freaking Madness. Single elimination, win or go home—American sporting drama at its finest every night. 

Plenty of people will partake in the mad drama before the tournament fields are set.  Teams in each NCAA Division (I-III) will have their popcorn ready for the announcement shows.

After the selection committee reveals the names of the programs they’ve invited to play for the national championship, the travel begins. Airports experience a huge economic boost for a longer period than the end-year holidays.

And March Madness is like a long holiday for those who can afford it. 

Corporate executives and regular office workers talk trash as if they’re playing in the actual games. Regular alumni come out in droves along with superstar alumni, who are valuable for their pep talks and presence. 

During the first week of the tournament, the games are broadcast smack in the middle of a Thursday—a work day at the office. Workers take long breaks to watch the games on monitors around the cafeteria, while executives watch in their offices. 

This should be one of the more entertaining NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship Tournaments in recent memory. Teams like BYU, Notre Dame and San Diego State are ranked in the top 10. The usual suspects—North Carolina and St. John’s—have returned to national prominence. 

Entertaining names like Harrison Barnes, Jimmer Fredette and Dallas Lauderdale will be on display. But where does March Madness rank in the American lexicon of sports entertainment? You tell me. I believe it’s No. 1. 

The Super Bowl is one-and-done and is broadcast all over the world, but it’s over after three hours. March Madness has its own month. The NBA Finals are almost unwatched when small market teams like the Spurs play. 

The World Series seems to become less relevant with each newborn child. Should I even mention boxing? I didn’t believe so either.

MMA is either too fledgling of a sport or too Caucasian to be mentioned as a challenger to NCAA men’s basketball. Check back with me in about five years. Maybe I’ll have mastered a reverse naked choke 'em out.

Golf? Well, The Masters does all right—when Tiger is doing all right. He’s less than fine now. In our lexicon, the word “master” evokes memories of the dark side of America for some. 

This one is plural and broadcast nationally to a Lilly audience. Forgive me, but I rarely use the words black, white, brown or yellow to describe people. My vocabulary is way too fresh for me to get bogged down with stale colors.

It’s almost un-American—dare I say. Far be it from me to type “LOL” after an edgy comment, like most athletes and stars do after socking it to us with their tweets. 

Did someone say soccer? Check back with me in about three years—after the World Cup.  Hockey is so far off the charts now that soccer may surpass it in America. These are the two leading candidates for most un-American sport aren’t they? I thought you’d agree.

Voice your own opinion, though, on the nature of the sports entertainment business. For me, aside from the caged dancers in the Jerry Jones Dome, the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship is No. 1.

Please understand it’s more than sports. It’s television drama at its finest. Full of double entendres, it’s sexy without having sex before marriage.

Wait. It’s the story of the BYU player named Brandon Davies being suspended for fornication—premarital sex. If that isn’t drama, then what is? That's rhetorical, but feel free to answer me.

I’ll be watching just for the insight on the BYU situation. Will you? You’d better be.  Anything less would almost be un-American.