The Final Four

April 5, 2014

I have long thought the NCAA Final Four tournament the best sporting event going. To me, the much over-hyped Super Bowl doesn’t compare to the sixty-four (or is it sixty-eight?) team, single elimination tournament for the national championship in men’s basketball. There is nothing better in sports than a small school, Cinderella storied run, beating the so-called “big boys” along the way, very much like Dayton this year. I do not know if its old age creeping in or Final Four popularity rising to fever pitch, but I do have a long history of liking something less the more popular it becomes. This has been especially true in my musical tastes. Most artists that I think are great, most people never heard. Even the musical genre I love most, the blues, is a dying art form that nobody listens too.

Appealing to the masses, to me just causes anything to lose its edge, whatever “it” may be. The recent ruling that Northwestern athletes are employees of the university will revolutionize collegiate sports. Athletes no longer play for the love of school, but for the want of money. The ironic thing is that these employees/athletes/students will probably pay more in taxes than what they will earn in pay, once their tuition, room and board are counted as earnings on their W-2s. Athletes eat very well, and a lot. It must cost a fortune to feed a football team. Paying taxes on this “income” will become quit expense.

What I also do not understand is why basketball is the only sport in which the players’ uniforms are getting bigger and bigger every year. In every other sport, players wear as little as possible. Even cheerleaders wear as little as possible. For the past twenty years, basketball shorts have more in common with women’s culottes than they do with being “short.” Doesn’t all this extra material hinder both running and jumping? Now, the latest fad is for players’ jerseys to have sleeves. Football players’ jerseys actually look funny because they no longer have sleeves, except for maybe an occasional quarterback.

Another irritating thing I have with both football and basketball uniforms is the recent trend of the so-called throwback and/or specialty uniforms. I find most of these uniforms very hideous looking. Why do teams allow the apparel companies to dictate what they wear? The answer is simple, money. Teams receive millions of dollars from the various apparel companies to wear their uniforms. Replica jersey sales is big business, and these companies realized several years ago that having more than just the traditional home and away jerseys mean that many more they can sell the adoring public.

It’s bad enough that each piece of uniform, sock and sweat band shows its corporate logo front and center, however, I find it both rather ridiculous and irritating the sheer number of NCAA logos everywhere during the Final Four tournament. I wrote NCAA President Dr. Mark Emmert last year after watching the first two rounds (or is it three, since the play-in games now count as round one), complaining about the numerous NCAA logos. I made a list while watching one game to back my argument and found the total number most pitiful. The following is the list, and most likely is not all-inclusive:

Three logos on the court itself, including the enormous one at mid-court,
Three logos on top of each backboard,
Two, sometimes three logos on the scorer’s table electronic advertisement board,
Two logos on the bunting along press row behind the scorer’s table,
Two logos on the floor in front of the scorer’s table,
Two logos on the sideline reporter’s microphone,
One logo at the base of each backboard support,
One logo on each player’s uniform,
One logo on every coach’s suit jacket,
One logo on every referee’s shirt,
One logo on every chair on each team’s bench,
One logo on every chair behind the scorer’s table,
One logo on each team’s shoe scuffing pad,
One logo on every bucket of Gatorade,
One logo on every cup of Gatorade,
One logo on the scores of different games at the top of the television screen,
One logo is flash very quickly on the television screen when every reply is shown,
And one logo is flash during every commercial break on the television screen as the score of that game is given.

I did not attempt to count the number of logos shown at half time in the television studio behind and in front of the commentators as there were so many different NCAA, network and university logos displayed along with videos being played that one could become nauseated by it all.

As always the case in America, money governs everything in modern society. We are brainwashing our children by the constant bombardment of advertising that affects seeming every aspect of modern life. And sadly, no one cares.

Steven H. Spring

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