As March Madness descends, Travis Laurence Naught points out some of the real reasons why college basketball is so popular.
March is a special time of year. All sorts of animals are giving birth, reminding all sorts of humans that those animals had sex. In turn, this makes people horny, and not a lot more represents virility in pop culture than watching 18- to 22-year-old athletes in peak physical condition sweat for 40 minutes. Go ahead and try to convince me college basketball has nothing to do with sex … I’m waiting.
Advertisers are the first to jump on this bandwagon. Super Bowl Sunday owns the patent for expensive new commercials, but the NCAA Tournament is when food and beverage companies really make hay. Sexism isn’t a subtle moistening of the lips at the sight of a juicy burger, it’s the doctrine of women battling in a public fountain while wearing white T-shirts. Trust me, I’ve done A LOT of research in this department.
Schools represented in this competitive melee get off on the attention it brings them. Commercials for these fine institutions make everything look sexy. And why shouldn’t they? It’s not like there is a major problem with rape burning rampant through campuses nationwide. Oh, wait. Yes, there is! Greater efforts need to be undertaken by the metaphorical players in this game to convince the world at large, let alone prospective students, this issue is as important as whatever stupid lie the motto is they are trying to propagate. The promotion of a healthy atmosphere just might drive enrollment higher than stale tradition.
Lord knows the fans fall in line when it comes to sex-based basketball scenarios. Degrading insults are hurled at men and women by men and women during the highest stake scenario parts of every game. Years after a person misses free throws that could have eventually won a game, they are going to be faced with the memory of their personhood being called into question just because they represented the opposition. Thankfully, sporting arenas have started to take this a little more seriously. Before every game, fans are reminded over the loudspeaker to be respectful. I have seen individuals removed for vociferous belligerence.
And all of this written by a guy who spent ten years working with college basketball?!
I would honestly love it if things had been different from the start, if my go-to sentiment every time I see a player writhing on the floor like they’re dying after jamming a pinky finger wasn’t to call them “a little bitch,” but all I can hope for is that things get better. Even writing that last sentence made me a little uncomfortable. I have been learning how much is wrong with the world since coming up for air in September 2011. The focused competitive nature hasn’t left my bones, I hope it never does, but my eyes have been opened to many of the exploitations and shortcomings surrounding a game I love so much.
May everybody, especially those of you who don’t obsess over roundball all season long, find thrills this month. Instead of berating officials as “fucking pieces of shit,” remember to direct your anger at the calls they make, not the person making them. If you have a son or daughter preparing to apply for college, maybe encourage them to check for diversity in their choices’ offered clubs and organizations rather than whose jerseys look the coolest.
And for heaven’s sake, if a commercial about a little pill comes on asking if you’ll be ready when something other than the buzzer is about to blow, wait until the game is over to call your doctor!