NCAA Final Four – 75 Years of True Reality TV

Some of my Facebook friends have been railing about how they’re ready for the NCAA men’s basketball tournament to be over.  Well, after today’s two games, and Monday’s final, they’ll have their wish. But let’s not go so fast.NCAA_FinalFourLogo

Today’s two games and Monday’s National Championship mark 75 years of the NCAA tournament. It is the essence of Reality TV without people eating bugs, walking through pits of vipers, or subjectively voting people off islands. No, it’s much more than that.

Have you seen those commercials the NCAA runs that say “most of our athletes will be going pro in something other than sports?”

That reality rings true in the young men playing in today’s tournament–admittedly, at this level in the tournament, these guys probably do have a better chance than most of playing professional athletics, but the point is, for most, if you lose today’s game or Monday’s game, for the seniors, there’s a very high level of probability that they are done.

Now as a mom or dad think about the emotions that must choke up from on the court and somewhere up in the stands or at home on the TV.  Think of all the hours you might have spent with your own kids at baseball, football, soccer, cheer, gymnastics, basketball, track, volley ball, and more through the years and they’re now a senior in college, ready to graduate and they’re playing in the tourney and a loss and it’s over.

If the rules are being followed, these kids aren’t being paid for playing.

They’re playing with their hearts. They’re playing for all those days in the hot sun as a kid, or those times they played in half-court gym in the middle of nowhere on a dark and rainy night when you rode back home and were worried if you were going to make it or not without running into a ditch.

Watch the pre-game stories CBS tells.  The story two weeks ago about the Michigan State player who was playing for a girl with cancer.  The Eric Webb tibia compound fracture last week.  He was on Letterman the other night.  The video is below.

Now that you’ve seen that, think about The Amazing Race, or The Voice, or American Idol, Survivor and any other knockoff that’s come along in the past two decades and stack that up against the NCAA Final Four. The Duke shot from Bobby Hurley to Kristian Laettner. The kid with the hair from Florida.  The UCLA runs.

Many thanks to the NCAA and to the thousands of players who have been in the tournament for the past 75 years.  What a great run it’s been. And what a great one it is yet to be.

So please, before you say, “I WANT BASKETBALL TO BE OVER,” think about what you’re wishing for.  You’re wishing for midnight to come at 9 p.m. for Cinderella and she’s not gotten a chance to dance yet.  Don’t you want to see that one shining moment in her life?  I sure as hell do.


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