Growing up, I was like any other normal boy. I followed all sports (except hockey–I said normal kid), and followed them religiously. My girlfriends would always get excited when a particular sport’s season would end, because they thought it meant they could get more of my attention. Of course, as any novice sports fan knows, it never ends. Baseball leads into football, which leads into basketball, which leads back into baseball. Thankfully, there’s never a dull moment in the sports calendar.
Now, my wife knows that when she wants my attention, she has a small window of February (post-Super Bowl) to April 1st (MLB Opening Day). Why? Because college basketball died. I’m not sure of the exact date, or the exact reason…but college basketball no longer holds my attention.
There are a few possibilities:
General Georgia basketball suckitude: My team is the University of Georgia. And while they haven’t garnered much attention on a national scale (except for the ‘Nique years and the Harrick fiasco), they have remained relevant in local circles through some NCAA appearances here and there, and a few SEC Championship pursuits. Even if they stunk, they still had at least one guy that was great fun to watch (Jumaine Jones comes to mind…GREAT player in college–just an absolute beast–but also a perfect example of a guy that needed more time to develop. I still say if he hadn’t left early he’d be a great pro today).
These days, the team is quite bland. Of course, I will still root for them, but from a distance. Their two best players were kicked off the team, and they’re left with a roster of underclassmen and walk-ons. Sundiata Gaines and Billy Humphrey are talented, but neither of them has a magnetism that forces you to watch. So, as a result, I don’t keep up with the rest of the SEC (since UGA has no chance to compete, even in a decidedly down year for the conference), and consequently, the rest of the NCAA. I just don’t care.
Early entry into the NBA: This is perhaps the most obvious (and most accurate) argument. All of the great talents that used to draw in casual fans are now in college for one year and then off to the NBA. I don’t blame them; it’d be silly to pass up the opportunity for guaranteed millions. But let’s take a closer look…
The fall sports landscape is dominated by football. Basketball starts in November, but no one’s really paying attention until, at the earliest, the end of the college bowl season and NFL regular season. At that point, it’s only 2-3 months until those 1-and-done players are gone. So, just as we’re getting to know who they are and how good they are, they’re gone to the NBA. Sure, we get an overdose of college basketball in March, and no one’s complaining about that, but I don’t even fill out a bracket anymore (I know, it’s sports sacrilege!!) because I don’t know anything about the teams.
How do we fix this? Well, for one thing, Georgia can start winning. I’ll admit that they have a decent chance to go .500 in the SEC this year, because everyone stinks. UT and Vandy look good, but that’s about it. Florida’s ok. Kentucky? Ugh…after that, it’s a bunch of rebuilding/reclamation projects. Of course, someone who has admitted just paragraphs earlier about not following college basketball has just given their analysis of college basketball, so take it for what it’s worth (i.e., not a whole heck of a lot). But I do like Felton, and have a lot of respect for him. I’d like to see if he can build something out of the rubble that Slick Jimmy Harrick, Esq. left behind. We’ll see.
The NBA (and the NCAA had something to do with it too, I’d have to assume) has already made some effort in this regard with instituting the rule that all potential draftees have to play at least one year in college. But, as I’ve stated above, that one year isn’t helping out very much. So do they raise it to two years? Three years? That’s getting to the point of indentured servitude, and most people don’t want to go back to Feudal times.
So I guess I’m doing something here that is one of my pet peeves in others–complaining about something without offering a solution. I could stop typing a blog and start reading up on college basketball…but that would be too easy. And then, what would I have to complain about??