Last week I mentioned how I like to break down winter into segments filled with anticipation for certain events (many of them sports-related) to make the interminable season seem just a little shorter. Now, the NCAA is considering taking away one of those winter highlights by pushing back the start of the college basketball season.
It's just a discussion point right now. There are no official plans in place. But I just want to get out in front of this by saying it's a very bad idea.
The college hoops season would go from its current Thanksgiving week start to a tipoff during the holiday break in December. Personally, I love those games during Turkey Week--especially the Maui Invitational--with the shots of Ka'anapali Beach, breaching whales and surfers in Kapalua Bay bringing back very good memories. What's more, the Badgers are scheduled to play out there in 2016 again.
The later start would also mean the conference tournaments and the NCAA Championships would be pushed back a month or so--costing us the perfect marketing phrase: "March Madness". I love March Madness, in large part because what else is there to do during that time? The weather is still lousy, so you may as well have 32-basketball games to watch all day. And as the schedule currently sits, the Final Four and the National Championship game perfectly bracket the start of the Major League Baseball season. You get the National Semifinals Saturday night, the Sunday Night Baseball opener, a day full of baseball again on Monday and the National Title game that night. It's a great weekend of sports. As an added bonus, that is also the start of Masters week--so you transition perfectly into optimism of spring.
Pushing the NCAA tourney into April and May ruins all of that. By that time, the weather is tolerable and you can spend time outside again. There goes the excuse for watching hoops from 11:00 AM to Midnight four straight days. Plus, the NHL and NBA playoffs are getting underway as well--so the sports landscape just keeps getting more and more crowded.
While the NCAA may like to think it will have the final say as to when college hoops will start--and more importantly, when it will end. The real power here lies with the TV networks that pay billions of dollars to broadcast the tournament. Will CBS be willing to give up the perfect promotional lead into its lucrative Masters Coverage? Will TBS agree to delay its Major League Baseball coverage to allow for three weeks to suit NCAA Touranment coverage? I'm guessing both will take a pass on the later start.
So let us keep March Madness, Feast Week and the best weekend in sports just the way they are. We have to have something to look forward to when it's five below and the snow is coming down sideways.