That’s Debatable: May Madness?Posted by WCarey on February 2nd, 2012
That’s Debatable is back for another year of expert opinions, ridiculous assertions and general know-it-all-itude. Remember, kids, there are no stupid answers, just stupid people. We’ll try to do one of these each week during the rest of the season. Feel free to leave your takes below in the comments section.
This week’s topic: Last weekend Dan Wolken of The Daily wrote an article suggesting that college basketball should move its season forward to the spring semester so as to not compete with football. Is this a good idea? Bad idea? Why?
Patrick Prendergast, Big East Microsite Writer
All the article does is validate the argument that college football should have a tournament to decide its champion. From a television standpoint, a comparison cannot be made between a football bowl game and a regular season basketball game. Traffic is herded to bowl games, not to mention the gambling angle. Bowls are played in a media competition vacuum and promoted to no end. The great thing about college basketball is its depth and breadth. Fans are likely to be just as entertained and intrigued by Boston University vs. Stony Brook as they are Georgetown vs. Syracuse, so the audience spreads itself artificially thin. The only schedule tweak that would make meaningful sense is to work conference play around the semester break. Home courts are much better with a student presence to drive the energy.
Brian Otskey, Big East Correspondent
Bad idea. I like Wolken’s one semester argument because that would make transfer rules a lot less complicated while allowing freshmen and transfers more time to get acclimated to their new schools, but I don’t agree with much of anything else in his piece. College basketball already goes out of its way to not conflict with the NFL. Just look at the lackluster schedule every Sunday from November to January. If college basketball can’t draw ratings during the week or on Saturdays (when the NFL isn’t playing), there isn’t much hope to begin with. It is hard to go up against college football on November Saturdays but that’s why college basketball saves most of its good non-conference matchups for December, in between the college football regular season and bowl games. It pains me to say this as a person who follows only two major sports (college basketball and MLB) but college basketball will never be more than a niche sport in months not named March. Making the season run January to May instead of November to March won’t change that.
Brian Goodman, Editor
The idea of moving the season to a window entirely within the second semester is interesting, but would wreak logistical havoc. I wouldn’t envy those tasked with planning the NCAA Tournament sites around the potential of conflict with the NBA playoffs, for instance. Also, early entry candidates would have a shorter window of time to gather information and be properly evaluated, increasing the potential of regrettable decisions. It wouldn’t be without its advantages, though. In addition to the idea of owning the spotlight, positioning the end of the season to coincide with the end of the semester would probably lead to a lower rate of classroom attrition by draft candidates, which would bring some relief to programs with APR concerns. Wolken’s column raises some valid points – for the longest time, college basketball has lacked a true “kick-off” event that maximizes viewership. This is hardly a new revelation, but it’s nonetheless relevant. Events like the Carrier Classic and ESPN’s 24-Hour Tip-Off marathon are nice starts, especially for us die-hards, but the endurance of casual fans of marquee programs in the Eastern and Central time zones is tested every year with late games during the Maui Invitational. Competing with football is a tall order, and it may be impossible if the pendulum doesn’t swing back to the days before the gridiron took over.
Kenny Ocker, Correspondent
I think it’s a terrible idea to cave into the pressure of college football. The season is already so short in comparison to the amount of teams that it isn’t an accurate sample size, and it would either have to be compressed more, putting more of a strain on student-athletes, or risk running into the NBA and NHL playoffs. Part of the charm of the NCAA Tournament is that it happens in a sports dead zone. There’s nothing else going on in March, which makes it so the entire nation is watching in rapt attention. You lose eyeballs if you move it any later.
Walker Carey, Correspondent
I find this idea to be just horrendous. College basketball season belongs where it currently is. To real fans of the sport, it does not matter that the season is overshadowed by college football in November and December. I understand that the sport is only on prime display in January, February, and March, but that is really as much time as any sport is on prime display. Moving the season into April and May would put the end of the regular season, conference tournaments, and the NCAA Tournament in direct competition with the start of baseball season, the NBA playoffs, and the NHL playoffs. Call me crazy, but I think the casual basketball fan would be more likely to watch Derrick Rose play LeBron James in an NBA playoff game than watch any NCAA Tournament game. The NCAA Tournament belongs in March and will always belong in March. March Madness should always be March Madness; it should never become May Madness.
Andrew Murawa, Pac-12/MW Correspondent & Pac-12 Microsite Writer
Of all the bad ideas to “fix” college basketball, this one is certainly among them. Let me get this straight, instead of spending a couple months at the start of the college hoops season lurking in the shadows of football before having a leading role on the national sports landscape in February and March, Wolken wants to push the NCAA Tournament back into May, putting it in direct competition with the NBA playoffs? Not so much. But hey, what do you expect from a self-described “die-hard, stone-cold college hoops junkie” who had nothing but a “bleh” to say about all the great games we saw over last weekend. March Madness suits me just fine.
Connor Pelton, Pac-12 Microsite Writer
It’s a bad idea; however, it contains some good points. While the NCAA would certainly profit more off of this idea, do we, as diehard fans really care how much attention the sport gets in its first three months? I’ll be watching the games from Halloween to the Final Four no matter what distractions the NFL throws at us, and I don’t care if it’s just me or the entire world watching. But the main reason I’m opposed to this is that it ruins some great traditions. Feast Week would be destroyed, the wonderful first week of conference play grouped with New Year’s would be ruined, and what would we possibly do with ourselves in those first weeks of March? At least for the first couple years of this proposed idea, I would be a mess if my March Madness consisted of conference play tipping off instead of conference tournaments and the Big Dance.
Jesse Baumgartner, Columnist
As far as I’m concerned, college basketball has it right. It gives us a non-conference taste during the winter as college football winds down (I love weekends packed with bowl games and basketball preseason tourneys), and then gets center stage from January 10 onward. There are just too many games in the college season now to realistically make that idea happen. That said, I would stop letting the basketball schedule inch earlier into the fall with each new season — a very easy way to minimize the overlap.