Welcome to Championship Week in College Basketball. The first of the such sponsored weeks, thanks to the good folks at that four letter sports network designed to make them money.
And while we chastised those folks in the Nutmeg state for making a pile of dough off those Play Hoops For The Fun Of It kids, the truth is that they only take their place in a long line of those who take advantage of those that Play Hoops For The Fun Of It.
And the head of the line begins with the NCAA, which is the colleges themselves.
I'm not talking about the D-II and D-III institutions who hold their post season in conference tournaments. There is very little financial reward to be reaped. For those kids, it's one more chance to put on the sneakers for a game and keep playing.
But for those big boys in D-I, as Casper Gutttman said in "The Maltese Falcon", "it's a matter of loot". And big loot.
And as always, the kids get the short end.
You can make a case for the big conferences. The Big East which holds it’s post season bash at the Garden offers a last chance for a bubble team like Syracuse to make the Big Dance. And the same is true for the other majors.
But what about the small conferences like the Metro Atlantic, America East and the Colonial. There it’s one bid. That goes to the post season tournament winner. Are you following? You can go through the regular season, win 23 games, get to the Post Season Tournament Championship Game, your star player gets into foul trouble, and you end up losing. Your dream of playing in the NCAA tournament, the carrot at the end of a five months of hard work and sacrifice stick is dashed.
And why? Because your conference wants to take in some more dough with the Post Season Four Day Tournament. In a case like the Metro Atlantic, the home of locals like Iona, St Peter’s Fairfield and Manhattan, How much dough ? In some piece of misplaced inspired wisdom, the league holds their show in a big time arena in places like Albany, Trenton, and Buffalo. And unless a local team is playing, maybe as many as 3000 people show up, a drop in a 15,000 seat bucket. And the place sounds like an Islanders home game.
The Ivy League gets it. No Post season. No taking kids out of class. Win the regular season, you go to the NCAA. No, injustices to kids who work their tails off. No false sense of accomplishment. No reward for a season of missteps, culminated by three or four good days that pay off.
But for the rest of the money hungry college leagues it’s business as usual. Every nickel counts. Damn the Athletes, Full Greed Ahead.