I've said many times that the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament are such an orgy of basketball that the true fan must find a way to experience
it in Las Vegas at least once in his or her lifetime.
And of course, the Final Four games always demand a prominent place on one's calendar and must be planned around. Year in and year out, however, the
best weekend is the one we just had - the one where the field is cut from sixteen to four. The quantity of games is sufficient and the quality is
usually extremely high. Such was the case this year - especially the games on Saturday and Sunday. I can understand how diehard fans of West Virginia
and Arizona and Kentucky and Wisconsin might not be elated over the outcomes this morning, but college basketball fans had great games in front of
them. It was an easy weekend to have fun.
By the way, according to a story in USA Today, the amount of money wagered worldwide on the NCAA tournament will be in excess of $1B - most of that
money going through offshore gambling websites. That's not a typo; that's more than one billion dollars. That is about two and a half times more than
what was wagered on the Super Bowl worldwide this year. [Keep in mind; this is the total for all 63 games and not for any single game.] And the NCAA
runs "public service announcements" telling people not to ruin the game by betting on it. Somebody give Dr. Myles Brand a box of Q-Tips and suggest
that he go out and soak up the Atlantic Ocean...
Let me tip my hat to CBS for its basketball coverage. Before the UNC/Wisconsin game, they said that Scott May [Sean May's father] had requested that
they not put him on camera during the game because he is nervous and he paces and fidgets a lot. CBS said they would do that; good for them. By the
same token, I read where LeBron James and his retinue had been at the regional games held in Cleveland the weekend prior to this one and CBS had not
spent lots of time showing these folks either. I'll take this as a small but very positive step in the right direction for sports presentations on TV.
The focus should be the game and the players/coaches involved in the game. Celebrities who have chosen to buy tickets - or were comped tickets somehow
- should only be part of the story if they are being led out of the arena in shackles for some reason. In that circumstance, there would be a news
story that was unfolding as the game was being played making coverage of both things appropriate.
On the other hand, it was relatively easy to be outraged by the behaviors and the statements of Bobby Fischer over the weekend. Look, I don't
particularly care if he is indicted for violating some Federal law and is technically a fugitive from justice. I have to believe that the US
government has more important things to do than to extradite and put this guy on trial here in the US. At the same time, Fischer's statements and
anti-Semitic tirades are very distasteful. The only comment about Fischer's arrival - and hopefully his permanent residence - in Iceland that was
positive came from Dwight Perry in the Seattle Times:
"Former US chess champion Bobby Fischer, calling himself a political pawn after being held in detention since his immigration arrest last July,
finally left Tokyo yesterday for exile in Iceland with bride-to-be Miyoko Watai, head of Japan's chess association. A Japanese fiancee? Guess Bobby
couldn't find a Czech mate."
There were also two excellent columns over the weekend related to the Barry Bonds operetta. Nick Canepa writing in the San Diego Union-Tribune took
the time to pen an apology to Barry Bonds from Canepa himself as the embodiment of the media who has been hounding Barry Bonds all this time. I
commend this to your reading.
In Northern California, Mark Kreidler of the Sacramento Bee wrote that Bonds' threat to retire is merely that - an idle threat. Kreidler's thesis is
that Bonds' ego will not allow him to retire and that this is all an act. I also commend this to your reading (though you need to register with the
site to read it) and here is a sample of what's there:
"[The press conference where Bonds blamed the media for his malaise] was one of the great performances by a sports diva in history, perhaps rivaling
only Bonds himself earlier this spring, when he came up strong by declaring that he doesn't really know what cheating is, but he's sure we're all
I have one rhetorical question about this Barry Bonds operetta that keeps swirling around in my head because something here doesn't make a lot of
sense. If he's really going to retire and not play baseball anymore for whatever his reasons are, why is he working so hard to rehab his knee? It
would seem logical to me that someone looking forward to a life full of time with family and friends doing only those things that are important and
enjoyable to one would be taking a more leisurely and a less painful path through the physical therapy thicket.
I ran across this statistical tidbit recently. Reggie Miller - who said that he is retiring at the end of this season and who is far more credible
than Barry Bonds on that issue - became the 13th player in the history of the NBA to score 25,000 points. Nine of the thirteen are in the Hall of
Fame. Michael Jordan and Karl Malone aren't yet in the Hall of Fame but it's pretty certain they will wind up there. That will leave only Miller and
Dominique Wilkens as players with more than 25,000 points scored who are not enshrined in the Hall of Fame. I don't have any particularly strong
feelings about either Miller or Wilkens being included or excluded from the Hall of Fame but it interesting to think about this.
Finally a social commentary from Mike Bianchi in the Orlando Sentinel:
"Liquor, porn, payoffs and lewd behavior? No, I'm not talking about the Michael Jackson trial. I'm talking about a recruiting trip to the University
But don't get me wrong, I love sports...
Copyright The Sports Curmudgeon