Thursday, March 24, 2011

Putting the "Mad" in March Madness

It's that time of year again; I blogged about it almost exactly a year ago. You know what I'm talking about.

It's that time, when the best college basketball teams in the country face off against one another, and the public is unified by their intense interest in young men whose names they had never heard a week earlier.  It is also that time of year when some person of note makes a loud, public ruckus about the obvious social flaw revealed by our national apathy toward the woman's tournament.

This year, the ruckus-maker is Geno Auriemma, coach of the UConn woman's team, who used his post game press conference after an early-round win, to blast the UConn fans for not showing up to cheer.  His premise was that the fans are spoiled and consider it "a given" that the team will make it to the final four.  He surmised that they are all waiting until the more important games before showing up.

History and market research both tell us that he is wrong.

I think that most agree about certain, positive aspects of school sports programs.  They are great opportunities for student athletes to learn about dedication, teamwork, and leadership.  Many participants learn invaluable life skills and important lessons about winning, losing, commitment, and sportsmanship.  For those who choose to participate, these programs can change their lives in many positive ways.

However, benefits to the student athletes do not translate directly into "interesting spectator opportunities" and, unfortunately, woman's basketball is boring to the masses.  You can put it on TV but it won't pull a large viewing audience.  You can play it in a big arena but not many will come to see it.  And you can attach heightened importance to each game in a championship tournament, but most don't really care.

Memo to Geno, the fans aren't spoiled, they just have more interesting ways to spend their time and money.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous3/27/2011

    Disagree; if this team was "new" to another part of the country, people would be watching, just like they were at UCONN 5-10+ years ago when winning was still a novelty. When you lose 1 game out of 113, which is the current streak, and all of those are double digit blowouts, the hunger of the common spoiled Connecticut fan is gone. Just two years ago, they were 39-0 with every victory by 10+ points! Attendance has dropped over the years as UCONN has improved. Geno's comments were immediately after their 18th straight Sweet 16 and a 64-40 win over Purdue. It is impossible for a men's team to get 18 straight sweet 16's. UCONN fans EXPECT nothing short of a final four championship. Anything else is failure. Even today, they were actually behind Georgetown with about 10 minutes to go, and it was shocking! Usually the connecticut fan can just wait to watch the very final game, just out of curiosity. The issue is lack of parity in the sport. There are only 5 teams that can win it all; kinda like MLB. Even Obama picked UCONN. Geno tells it like it is. The men's team; we're excited about. The women's team; expect to win or fail. JD