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March Madness is losing its soul

March Madness is that time of the year when we all come together, as fans, and for two weeks and change, we enjoy college basketball at its best. For years, that's what it's been, and when you get used to something for so long, you figure that's how it's always going to be. As much as I hate to say it, though, that's simply not the case anymore.

Enjoy March Madness while you can, folks. The event many of us have come to love, mark our calendars for, and make tons of brackets in its name...is rapidly changing, and not for the better.

People may think some of these changes are a good thing, and at one time, I even thought they were.

Then, it happened. While sitting around, reminiscing about The Fab Five, UNLV, the '07 Hoyas squad, and some of my other favorite March Madness squads, the lil' dude on my shoulder, aka my conscience, tapped me, and started to go in:

"Look atcha, all excited about this time of the year, as usual. Don't get too excited, now. This is the beginning of our sacred event being contaminated by greed, envy, and folks looking to maximize their pay day, even at the expense of integrity, authenticity, and all that other good stuff."

Okay. So what? It's March Madness. Do you know how long we've waited on this? I don't care. Well, I do care, but---

Dammit; should've never recanted and said I cared, because once the opening was presented, my conscience had a field day.

"64 + 1? Yeah, it was cool at first. A play-in game to see who would get the honor of getting their brains beat in by a #1 was all fun and games, until the powers-that-be suggested making the field 96.

Shoot, your own boy, someone who believes in the essence of fanhood, integrity, and decency even vouched for it on y'alls site...and you let it ride!"

I could see where this was going. First off, I didn't let it ride. Secondly, what was I supposed to do? Feelings of anger were starting to bubble, and my conscience knew it, and when I tried to walk away, it pulled me back in and continued to rant.

"See, the powers-that-be couldn't get everyone to buy into their initial vision, but you know evil, brother. Evil doesn't sleep; evil doesn't rest. Evil will just re-group, especially in the name of monumental gain.

Now, it's 68 teams and on top of that, they're showing every game on TV. What do you need Tru TV for? Do you even know what channel that is? What's wrong with CBS doing lead-ins, like you've been getting ever since you started watching? Are you such a sheep that you can't see what they're doing?"

My conscience sensed my angst, so it went for the kill.

"I mean, if they took your suggestion that the first two days of March Madness should be a national holiday, then that would be one thing. You could watch the games from the comfort of your couch, a sports bar, or somewhere not work. Instead, they taunt you by not only having everyone continue to go to work, fingers massaging The Boss Button on their desktop so you don't get caught slippin' by The Man, but they put every single game on TV?!?!

Part of the allure of March Madness is watching the updates and waiting for the scores to roll in. What do you need to have access to all those games on TV for? Can you watch that much TV at the same time? Are your channel-changing abilities equipped to hit the "RECALL, LAST, or PREVIOUS" button on your remote with that much frequency? Thank God I'm your conscience, because you don't have a clue...chump."

Well, damn.

The dilemma of being a responsible sports fan, one who knows better, is real. Some people will read this and continue to be sheep, like I was, and, to a degree, still am. Of course, I'll watch March Madness, make my brackets, and get in pool-after-pool, but it's now with the realization that the event I have come to know and love has been compromised, and I have to do my best to enjoy it, while there's still a shred of integrity left in it, while I can.

-K. Masenda
P.S. As a reminder, checkout the livest sports talk show around, "The Unsportsmanlike Conduct Show" as we are live Wednesday's at 9pm Eastern at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/edthesportsfan! Download our podcasts if you missed the live show as well!


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