We lost an hour of sleep.
But we gained one of the best spectacles in sports. One of the few that holds the power to recruit folks who struggle to differentiate a power forward and a Powerball. Indeed, the NCAA Tournament is set to tip off yet again, deafening cheers will echo throughout popular sports bars, and office productivity will perform its annual disappearing act.
The bracket is set, and if you’re like me, you’re filling it out the old school way with a print-out, pen, and a yellow highlighter. Diggar Phelps style.
But there’s something amiss. College basketball is always embroiled in scandal, but it usually involves improprieties from former Louisville coach Rick Pitino. A man whose latest transgression involves monetary gains from Adidas. No, this time around, practically every big name at every big institution in the game is named in an unprecedented FBI probe.
The implications are salacious and damaging. Either warranted or not, names like Michigan State’s Tom Izzo get dragged through the mud, a strange dichotomy where the outlets damning the individual, are the same ones promoting them.
Who cares? No one, possibly.
Who are we to ruin our own fun? Sure, allegations are rampant, but fans still flock to sites like The Ringer, Mashable, and ESPN, to set the table for hundreds of hours of basketball that will dominate conversation until March Madness becomes April madness, and a champion is crowned in San Antonio, Texas.
People want to gamble. People want bragging rights. And maybe, they just want to decompress from the myriad of stresses life entails.
What it must come down to is that we have so few fun things left to look forward to. In today’s landscape, blink once and the world is at odds again. The tournament is a gleaming example of what can happen when people choose to get along. Perhaps the notion that people need a tentpole sporting event to discover common ground is the problem. Although, you’ve got to take what you can get.
In life, one will find the people who complain the most, and feel as though they have the most to lose, are the ones who don’t follow sports. This tournament provides more than exhilarating competition and previously unheralded heroes, it provides an opportunity to reset.
A mascot is more than a name, it’s a symbol of individual pride and representation of a person’s journey to become whatever it is they end up becoming. That takes precedent over the next in a perpetual stream of scandals.
Malfeasance is and always will be an issue. Like the folks I mentioned earlier, some just don’t think that sports matter, like, at all. But it’s obvious they do. That people get so much enjoyment out of it, matters.
The question is will people lose more sleep over how much an 18-year-old got paid to take a jump shot, or watching Loyola upset the Miami Hurricanes?