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Welcome to the madness

Alex Close
Sierra Sun

Ah, it’s March Madness time. NCAA Basketball Tourney time.

Powerhouses. Cindarella stories. Dreams come true. Sure bets lost.

Dick Vitale.

According to Sportsillustrated.com, Selection Sunday draws a bigger TV rating than any single NBA game until the finals.

Why is that?

First of all, even non-fans crave the sudo gambling opportunity that arises with the office room bracket pool.

Shoot, I just filled out my bracket. I’ve got no idea what I’m doing; I just thought it would be fun to fill the thing out.

I still haven’t decided if I’ll throw $10 toward it or not.

But, regardless of Selection Sunday drawing more viewers than regular-season NBA games, the NCAA Basketball Tourney, and especially the Final Four, seems to draw more interest than anything else in the U.S. sporting world because it is more pure and more honest.

College football would easily take the cake if it wasn’t dictated by the BCS ” if it was like the other NCAA sports and actually played a legitimate tournament to dictate the best team in the league.

And in no other sport is the raw emotion, desire and nearly animalistic drive as visible as it is come March on college hoops courts around the country.

While those kids are most likely being courted by NBA programs, they still haven’t quite been jaded by postseason bonuses, free agency and the uber-celebrity status that clouds the purity of professional sports.

Sure, the dream of playing for the Detriot Pistons, LA Lakers or Miami Heat alongside some of the greatest names in the game is a powerful motivator.

But these kids are still athletes in the simple and pure sense of the word. At the end of the day they have to go back to school and sit next to their friends ” and you don’t want to brick a shot at the buzzer on national TV and then have to sit next to your hungover classmate in Econ 101 on Monday ’cause your team’s out of the tourney.

To these young ballers it is still a game. The sport hasn’t been stripped out by bowl commitees or overinflated salaries. It’s just 64 teams in a single elimination month of crazy plays, unbelievable finishes and raw emotion all for nothing more than a trophy and snipped off net.

And it is that which fans recognize. It is that emotion, that blinded desire to win that reminds us what sport is all about.

Well, that and an undying allegiance to our alma mater.

Alex Close is the assistant editor of the Tahoe World and a sportswriter for the Sierra Sun. He can be reached at aclose@tahoe-world.com.


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