Ed. Note: this column originally ran on October 15, 2010. We received such a positive response from it that we’re running it again this year, and quite possibly every year until changes are made.
Blasphemer. Defiler. Hater.
These are the words you’re going to use to describe us after you read this column. In fact, you may already be using them simply by scanning the title. What’s wrong with this joint, you might say? Isn’t Midnight Madness day a ritualistic celebration of the return of college hoops — a singularly original basketball-only event that juices up the masses of fans from coast to coast yearning for the shortened fall days where the lonely bounce of an orange ball in a far-away gym represents that all is right with the world again?
To this we respond: well, yeah… it was.
Forgive us for going all Charlie Brown Christmas on you, as we’re definitely going to sound like our dad when we say these things, but the “good old days” of Midnight Madness were simply better. What was once a localized phenomenon driven by student interest and an excuse to go crazy on a random Tuesday night has become an over-the-top, over-produced, over-compensated can-you-top-this Lady Gaga show filled with indoor fireworks, race cars, people dangling from the rafters and the rest of it.
This isn’t a Kanye concert or Cirque du Soleil, folks; it’s a basketball practice.
Give us Lefty Driesell and his car headlights illuminating a track at 12:01 am or hell, even Dick Vitale losing his mind after drinking so much coffee that his very DNA was jittery. Give us a countdown clock that actually counts down to something and a student body that’s had enough down time to get, shall we say, socially lubricated. Give us a grand introduction without all the peripherals followed by a high-wire dunk contest and a spirited scrimmage. Give us hope that we’re going to be in for a special year as we leave the arena at 1:30 am on a cool fall night, because hope always wears a little better with a group of buddies heading back to the dorms in the wee hours of the morning.