Here’s how we’re going to take my mind off things. Something you may or may not know about my brother and me is our passion for creating leagues and tournaments. It was something we’ve always done from as long as I can remember.* We would make up professional teams from Covington and then make up a schedule for them to play**, and then go through the season. I’d be a little interested to hear what our parents would say about this or how much they really realized we were going into it. But it was a pretty awesome time. We had our pitching rotations set up, we had left-handed and right-handed pitchers and hitters so we got turns to do both. We researched other team’s rosters*** so we could get the handedness of their hitters right and switch off accordingly. Or, if it was Andrew’s turn in the rotation that day, he would stay pitching and I learned to switch hit a little bit. I got to be fairly decent at it. We kept this up for a whole lot longer than either one of us would probably care to admit, but the “make believe” part became much less important than the excuse to go out and play some ball. We just had an existing framework to fit the game in. It was nice.
*And, being the older brother, I’m guessing as long as he can remember.
**We’re going to talk about baseball here, because it was by far the most in depth, but basketball and football certainly happened, too.
***This became much easier when we got more current video games.
With this sort of background, you might not be surprised that we both forced league templates into video games that didn’t already have them built in. We at one point had some pretty in-depth spreadsheets to manage our Little League* schedule and subsequent tournament. Andrew had tours going for Mario Golf and Tennis before those games just became too easy for him. I tried to organize a boxing season of sorts using my Rocky game before coming to the same conclusion. I found a way around that using Super Smash Brothers: Melee by letting the computer duke it out and recording the results. We built a surprisingly detailed league on Sammy Sosa’s slow pitch softball game, where each built a league (a la National and American) and played the team from our respective league when it came to head-to-head matches. Plus, that had the built in advantage of picking the field you wanted to use, so that meant every team had a home field.
*By the way, still one of the best baseball games ever. I would highly recommend a ROM if you’re at all into that sort of thing.
And, well, if you’re familiar with my brother’s site, you can see this hasn’t exactly ended. And I can assure you that isn’t the only league or tournament he has going on with his dice-and-card games.
So, yes, I would like to think that this kind of organization is in my blood. Which is why it pains me to absolutely no end that there are 68 teams in the NCAA tournament these days. It makes absolutely no sense as a tournament or determining who the best team in the country is. Even as a money grab,* it makes very little sense. You grab a few small schools and a few schools that had pretty disappointing years to sell some tickets for one night and one extra night of TV?
*Which, clearly, the NCAA and its members are very familiar with.
How much do you really gain from that one night? I see what Dayton gets out of it (something instead of nothing), but what does the NCAA really get? There’s seems to be very little profit to be made from this extra night. I can’t imagine these games draw all that much in TV ratings. For example, if you were scrolling through your guide on a random Tuesday and you saw Lamar vs. Vermont on TV, would you stop and watch that game? I would probably check it out, because I have a soft spot for small schools, but I don’t think the general population would. You’re going to get a few extra eyeballs now just because it’s declared a tournament game, but I would be floored if it gains all that much. If advertisers are paying top dollar for those games, they’re getting gouged.* So, again, as a whole, what is the NCAA gaining from this?
*My guess would be that night gets tacked on for the package you see for the whole tournament. That’s why you see the same commercials over and over again all month until you can recite them by heart in the middle of June if you had to.
It just seems silly to me. 64 teams is more than enough. Hell, I wouldn’t be opposed to going back to 32 teams. That will never happen, and I’m not sure I would really want it to. 64 was the perfect number. That gives you the perfect length tournament. You will still get all the teams who really earned their way in. The number works out so you don’t have these stupid play-in games.* Long story short, if you’re still on the bubble at 64 teams and it bursts, well, that’s just how it goes sometimes. Lines have to be drawn somewhere. And if your team was in that position, you can probably easily look back on the season and point to a few games that got away that would have solidified your position.
*I know the NCAA doesn’t like calling them that, but I don’t think anybody buys that they’re anything else.
It’s a problem you have, NCAA. You try to fix things that weren’t broken. Like all this conference realignment. I’m not saying nothing can ever change. There are things that do need to change. But these are the sorts of things that were better off before. Let it be, college sports. Let it be.