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Bracket Buster

I know, I know.  I really, really need to stop blogging about basketball.  What can you expect from me if it’s practically the only thing I watch these days?  Seriously, I’m going to start weening myself off of March Madness.  I have got to kick this college basketball jones.  This will be hard, but I have to do it.  I didn’t fill out a bracket this year–a good sign.  And I only watched, maybe, fewer than a handful of games.  I imagine that I’ll peek at tonight’s final between Butler and UConn.  After that, though, I really need to change my viewing habits or something. Not that that will do anything but help me avoid being entertained by such blatant exploitation.

Last week, I caught Frontline‘s twenty-minute segment on the business of March Madness.  A story from the obvious files?  Perhaps.  Yet I had not seen a story that delineated the situation as clearly as this report did.  Here’s the link.

90% of the NCAA’s revenue comes from March Madness.  That comes to about $700 million a year.  The money funds other NCAA championships, the folks who work for the NCAA, etc.  But the players will see none of that money.  Although there’s no practical solution offered, the blatant exploitation in that set-up is sickening enough for me to start finding another way to entertain myself between the Super Bowl and the beginning of the NBA playoffs.  It’s a ridiculous economic arrangement that our culture is way to in love with, especially when we recall that basketball players must attend college for at least one year before they can declare themselves eligible for the NBA.

I’ve gone from One Shining Moment to One Shining Buzzkill.  It’s difficult to watch these young man–many of whom will not graduate–run up and down the court, risking injury for the sake of my entertainment and the NCAA president’s country club membership.  Meanwhile, the NCAA continues to punish recruits and players who receive[d] money from boosters and other sources from colleges wanting them to play basketball for their program.  Hypocritical much?

Just something to think about for those of us who watch the tournament.