Special to CHD by Charles Hartley
March Madness, the annual NCAA men’s college basketball tournament, used to be the best sporting event of the year. Annually it delivered memorable drama, riveting action, and buzzer beaters, but those glory days are dying. March Madness has become one of the most boring and tedious sporting events of the year. It should be called March Mind-Numbing.
With this in mind, I offer four reasons why you should stop watching the games:
Reason One: The tournament has always been full of advertisements that disrupt the flow of the games. But to me it seems that this year — more than ever — the disruptions are more poorly timed, overdone, and bothersome. The games are all about, in truth, an advertising extravaganza with a few minutes of basketball shown every now and again. The games lack flow and energy because they constantly get stopped for TV time-outs. Basketball is a sport that is most engaging when there is continuity and emotional intensity. All the ads strip away those benefits. The game’s charm and essence are being tarnished by rampant commercialism.
While fans are deriving less viewing pleasure, advertisers are surely happy. According to a new report from Kantar Media, March Madness last year made more dollars for CBS and Turner Sports than the respective playoffs and championship series for the National Football League, National Basketball Association, Major League Baseball and the National Hockey League, reports Adweek. This year ratings are likely to be just as high or better.
Wonderful for them. Not good for viewers. The ads are ruining what used to be a great product. Now the product, the games themselves, have become mediocre at best, less entertaining and more annoying to sit through.
The typical March Madness game gets disrupted by 51 minutes of advertising equaling 102 ad “spots,” according to the analytics department of a leading sports marketing and entertainment company. Each game lasts about two to three hours. So roughly 30-40 percent of the time you view ads rather than basketball action. It’s overbearing.
Reason Two: The two best storylines of the tournament have vanished. Wichita State lost to Kentucky, ending their quest to be the first undefeated national champions since 1976. Kentucky’s victory is an automatic bore because both schools have won plenty of national championships in basketball. They are playing Louisville in the Suite 16 which, within the state of Kentucky is more important than just about anything. But for me it’s uninteresting. I will not watch. There is not a storyline there that intrigues me enough to sit through 51 minutes of commercials.
The second compelling story was about Doug McDermott and Creighton, coached by his father, going all the way to win the title. It’s not going to happen — they’re out. Baylor annihilated them. How cool would it have been to see the father and son hug mid-court after winning it all? We should all be sorry this story died.
Reason Three: Thee buzzer beater – the one thing about the tournament that makes it great—does not occur frequently enough. For the remainder of the tournament you will not see one of these, I predict. They just aren’t as plentiful as they used to be and even if they happen it’s as if we’ve seen that movie before. Every buzzer beater has started to look and feel like the others. For many years there were so many, and this was the main reason the tournament became so popular. As repetitive as they have become, they would be the only things that could possibly justify sitting through 51 minutes of advertising. And now that they’re happened so much it’s not worth waiting around for, enduring the onslaught of ads.
Reason Four: You need to get some exercise. You know it and I know it. Get off your couch. Exercise stimulates your blood to flow more freely. It reduces your chances, statistically, of a heart attack or pulmonary embolism. Life is too short to spend it watching TV for countless hours. You need to think about your health. It’s much more important than basketball and advertising.