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Copyright 2018 Spokane Spokesman-Review

Spokesman Review (Spokane, WA)

 

Being a sports fan means making some concessions, compartmentalizing some jadedness and accepting a certain level of commercialism and inconvenience as the fair trade for, well, sports.

But come on.

We can deal with flopping, with tanking, with too many mound visits, with Jeff Triplette, with arguments about mock drafts and someone else's fantasy team and, heck, we can even deal with Roger Goodell.

We really don't ask for a lot in return. On the whole, it can feel like sports fans are taken for granted and squeezed more than any consumer base other than drug addicts.

But screwing with the NCAA Tournament selection show should be a bridge too far.

Bless TBS' heart, as Rusty Kuntz might say. They show a lot of "Seinfeld" reruns.

The network took the selection show for the first time on Sunday, and they basically handled it the way you'd expect an over-caffeinated 16-year-old to handle a sports car.

They crashed into the railings from the very beginning, with audio that didn't match video, and that may have been the highlight of the show. Lights went out, mascots were misidentified, old logos used and a format that should've been rejected in the planning room was butchered.

They wanted to reveal the field alphabetically, which would've been dumb enough, but in an act of unintentional poetic incompetence, TBS messed up the alphabetical order at least twice - N.C. State and Nevada, and TCU and Tennessee.

Also, for some nonsensical reason, TBS decided to lead what could be its most-watched live studio show of the year with what in some cases was old news - the automatic qualifiers.

They revealed the field first, bracket second, which may have sounded good to some network executive who pretends to care about college basketball for a few weeks every year, but in reality was sort of like watching someone pour a glass of milk on a plate of perfect nachos and expecting you to be hungry anyway.

Presumably, the folks who seem to have built their prime-time schedule around reruns of "The Big Bang Theory" figured they could get two reveals into one show - first the field, then the bracket.

But this could have only sounded good to someone who doesn't follow college basketball, whose only experience with a bracket reveal was hearing the bosses bought it and wanted something different this year.

College basketball fans want the bracket. The field is in the bracket. Give us the dang bracket!

Look, again, this isn't coming from a place of naiveté. Sports fans know the deal. You're going to build the drama. You've got ads to sell. Fine. Just build it in a way that makes sense.

Loving college basketball requires all sorts of moral ambiguities. Top coaches are paid on par with NBA coaches, players are told to be happy with round-the-clock snacks and a stipend, and when it turns out players are getting a slice of their true value on the black market, the NCAA wants to clutch its pearls and scream, "Well, I NEVER!"

But the NCAA Tournament is a place we've all sort of agreed is a No Cynicism Zone, all fun, with crazy upsets and game-winners and the greatest event in major American sports.

We are falling over ourselves to love the thing, is the point, and it takes a special level of failure to get in the way of that.

You either have to try to screw it up or have very little idea what you're doing, which brings up another point that's been obvious for a few years now - if you've been totally absent from the sport all year, maybe don't take over in the most important part of the season.

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March 12, 2018
 
 
 

 

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