Beauty And The Brackets
Beauty takes many shapes in our lives, such as dew on a rose early in the morning, the cooing of a newborn child to its mother, the colors of the sky in the evening when the sun sets, or the precision of a bounce pass on a three-on-two fast break.
There's the old saying about not being able to leave well enough alone, and the NCAA seems to be anxious to renew their subscription to the premise, because they are making loud rumblings about wanting to muck up a beautiful sporting event (March Madness) by expanding the field next year to 96 teams.
Even as Final Four Weekend is upon us, and with all the terrific stories that each team has written to get to college basketball's penultimate game (tiny Butler playing in its home town of Indianapolis; Michigan State/Tom Izzo and Duke/Coach K both returning for the umpteenth time, and West Virginia appearing for the first time since the glory days of Jerry West), the NCAA has chosen this time to darken the festivities with plans for their next blatant andshameless money-grab.
There are few things in life that achieve as high a state of perfection as does March Madness. 64 – the number of teams that compete for the National Championship (once you get past that silly-assed 'play-in game' out of the way) – lends itself beautifully to all sorts of sporting opportunities.
And while the primary sporting opportunity occurs on the court, the symmetry of sixty-four allows for any number of sporting propositions to take place, through the miracle of office pools and on-line bracket competition, not to mention any number of other ways that gentlemen can make sport to determine if they're lucky, smart, or both.
What the NCAA is hoping to do is to tamper with perfection. They're going to expand the tournament and try to 'improve' something that can't possibly be made better.
Once, years ago, brave young men argued late into a night (at an all-you-can-eat restaurant) over the dichotomy created between Jello's slogan ('There's always room for Jello'), and that definitive statement by one who has eaten so much that he can't possibly eat another bite (I'm full'). Sages in the crowd suggested that to be 'full' meant there was no more room whatsoever; sorry, filled to capacity --- while the dimwits present took Jello at its word and presumed there was no such thing as 'full', since 'there's always room for Jello'. Sadly there were no scientists in the room to inform us that Jello contains matter, and that matter takes up space, which would have swayed the argument clearly in favor of the 'I'm full' proponents. The discussion could still be going on to this very day (nearly 40 years after the fact), save for the proprietors advising us it was closing time and we all had to leave.
Just as 'full' meant 'full' forty years ago, 'perfect' means 'perfect' today.
Today's March Madness, with its 64 teams, is the perfect sporting event.
The NCAA is telling us that expanding the tournament to 96 teams will increase the opportunities for more teams and their precious 'student-athletes' without significantly impacting time lost in the classroom.
Bullfeathers and poppycock.
The NCAA knows there's hard money on the table to be had should they carry through with their plans (threats?) to bring more teams into the unique Madness we know and love in March.
And no greed-inspired obfuscation on their part will make anybody believe their motives to be based purely, and for reasons pertaining solely to competition.
Now if more money is what they really crave, I have an idea I will gladly pass on for free, if they'll just keep their grubby mitts off our March Madness.
This idea has the potential to bring in so much TV money for the NCAA that even they might blush at the prospect.
It involves the creation of a new sport, played exclusively by college females.
Ready for it?
Televised poker games already have their loyal viewers, and TV networks pay good money to sponsor these events.
Think of the huge numbers of eyeballs that would be glued to the tube in rapt interest (potentially seven nights a week) if the players at the table weren't the ball-capped and sunglassed men that typically inhabit the cardrooms, but were sweet and wholesome college coeds, instead.
Proud alums from all around the country would watch to see players in their school colors call, raise, or go all-in, for their Alma Mater.
And all the while, the NCAA would get to rake in the dough.
And they could leave March Madness alone.
There's no question about it.