Wednesday, March 30, 2011

6 comments Now I Get It, Dan Shaughnessy Just Hates the NCAA Tournament

When I was writing the post a few days ago chastising Dan Shaughnessy, I wondered why Dan was so insistent that the NCAA Tournament selection committee include Harvard. It is because Dan Shaughnessy doesn't care about the NCAA Tournament and one of the few things that would make it interesting is if Harvard were in the NCAA Tournament and he thinks college basketball is the dirtiest sport ever. Today, Dan Shaughnessy introduces us to the seamy side of the NCAA Tournament, rambles about how good college basketball used to be, and just generally annoys human kind.

Sorry to disrupt the dance, but I’m here to tell you that the NCAA Tournament is one of the more fraudulent, overblown media creations of our time.

I am not sure Dan understands the concept and definition of a "media creation."(Maybe the word is a media creation!) I could not find the actual definition of this word, but to me a media creation is something that doesn't exist or doesn't have as much relevance as the media believes it does.

So I know Dan is throwing around big words (for him), but the NCAA Tournament is not a media creation. It is a real tournament that exists and there is nothing fraudulent about the impact it has on lost money for companies when their employees watch it nor fraudulent about the growing popularity of the tournament. So in a nutshell, Dan is absolutely completely wrong about the tournament being a media creation and being overblown. It is no more overblown or media created than the Super Bowl.

March Madness?
I hate that term too. I am embarrassed, embarrassed I tell you, that we have a tag of "March Madness." That is a term used by television networks to describe the tournament and for some reason I don't like it. I shall remember to fine Dylan 100 Cheez-Its for creating that tag.
Please. What a farce.
Disagreed. There have been many good games in the tournament so far. What's a farce is the attempt by Dan to negate the impact the tournament has on people.

The David-vs.-Goliath themes are fun, great finishes always fascinate, and sometimes it’s nice to check in on old State U. But is there any connection between folks who actually follow the college game and this gluttonous festival of 24/7 bracketology bombardment?

Yes, there is. I follow the college game and I take off work to watch the NCAA Tournament. It is "my Christmas," the first four days of the tournament. I would assume with the reported impact the tournament has on workplace productivity, I am not the only one doing this. As far as bracketology goes, I don't follow that because I don't really care where teams are going to be placed in the tournament before this is actually announced. In regard to watching college basketball and enjoying it, this is the best time of the year for that in my opinion.

Here’s a little test: Walk out your door and try to find someone who can name five players in this year’s tournament.

Seriously? Maybe it is because I live in an area where college basketball is very popular, but I would estimate 50% of the people I speak with can do this. Simply because Dan Shaughnessy can't do this doesn't mean he speaks for others nor does it mean the NCAA Tournament is a fraud.

I don't watch a lot of soccer, but because I can't name the entire Everton roster does that mean soccer isn't popular? Of course not. I am not an egotistical maniac though. Egotistical maniacs like Bill Simmons and Dan Shaughnessy believe if they aren't personally watching or enjoying something, then it isn't happening or nor is it popular. It's irritating when they do this.

You won’t find anyone unless you live

in a place with human beings? In area with a major college basketball program within 50-100 miles?

next door to Bob Ryan, my boss Joe Sullivan, or one of the pudding-eating, basement-dwelling blog boys

Oh, I get it now! The NCAA Tournament is for geeks and losers who write on blogs and like advanced statistics. This was a connection I haven't even heard before. I love hearing new non-sensical things on a daily basis. It makes me feel smart and sane. It's like Activia for my brain. So everyone who likes college basketball (I would assume these are the people who watch the NCAA Tournament) are basement-dwelling blog boys.

Putting basement-dwelling blog boys in the same category as those who follow the NCAA Tournament really makes absolutely no sense. I have never heard this before today and probably will never hear this again after today.

Look at the commercials that are shown during the NCAA Tournament. Commercials for financial services, credit cards, and other services/products that are aimed towards college-educated/middle-class individuals with expendable income. There are a wide class of individuals who watch the NCAA Tournament on television and it has nothing to do with living in your mother's basement.

At what point will this "basement-dwelling" cliche about bloggers cease to exist? It is not funny, accurate, nor is it original. It has now become the fall-back insult from a writer over the age of 50 when talking about a subject he doesn't like or understand. It is used to describe those who do like the subject that over-50 writer doesn't like or understand. I say "he" because I haven't heard of a woman write something about basement-dwelling bloggers yet.

As far as "pudding-eating" goes...who the fuck eats pudding anymore? If someone still eats pudding, I would assume it isn't called pudding and is called something way cooler.

who’d normally be tracking UZR or NFL fantasy teams.

Fantasy is for basement dwelling blogs boys now. I didn't know this was true. I wondered what else Dan Shaughnessy thought was for basement-dwelling blog boys and what was not. So I called the super-secret Dan Line (with a red phone nonetheless) and got the following information. Here's a list provided by Dan Shaughnessy on what is for basement-dwelling blog boys and what is not:

For basement dwelling blog boys:

Fantasy teams, statistics that don't have to do with RBI or win-loss record, logic, NCAA Tournament, video games, videos, DVD's, Blu-Ray players, the Internet, computers, college, high school, junior high school, the color pink, pajamas, comments on a sportswriter's column, anyone who expresses their opinion on the Internet, oxygen, Bracketology, the Oakland A's, the Houston Rockets, movies, television shows, Facebook, MySpace, technology, the IPad,, the Nook, the Kindle, electric toothbrushes, goldfish, the movie "Inception," comic books, books with pictures, rap music, rock music, plastic, honey-nut Cheerios.

Not for basement dwelling blog boys:

Man-perms, Boston Red Sox, New England Patriots, fluff pieces on white athletes.

The tourney is great for office pools, gamblers, and happy hours, but most of the millions who fill out brackets wouldn’t know Nolan Smith from Nolan Ryan.

Irrelevant. Millions watch the Super Bowl for the commercials and can't tell you much about the game itself nor name three players on each team. This doesn't mean the Super Bowl is a fraudulent event. Not to mention, to fill out a bracket you don't need knowledge about college basketball, but the ability to write with a pen or pencil.

Many folks who express “interest’’ in the tourney still think the UCLA Bruins need more work on their power play.

Yes, I absolutely believe the same people who don't have enough sports knowledge but to believe the UCLA Bruins are an NHL hockey team, just happen to be smart enough about sports to understand exactly what a power play is. Because hockey is so much more popular than college basketball you see.

Certainly there are compelling Cinderella stories, but for the most part, the NCAA Tournament has morphed into a grotesque festival of AAU semi-pros working/playing for academic institutions.

By "the NCAA Tournament" Dan needs to actually mean "many NCAA sports" and it will be a more accurate statement. College football is the exact same way. This is not exclusive to the NCAA Tournament. College sports aren't pure, this doesn't mean the NCAA Tournament sucks.

The players want to make it to the NBA and the schools want to rake in bundles of cash.

I think it is interesting it is the year 2011 and Dan Shaughnessy has finally figured out how college sports work. Unfortunately, since he doesn't watch the NCAA Tournament he doesn't see the NCAA commercial that says the majority Division-I athletes go professional in something other than sports. If he saw that commercial, he would realize the NCAA Tournament IS about money, but 99% of the players in the tournament will not be going to the NBA and are getting a chance at a college education. This is a good thing. Also, I find it hard to believe the players are pissed off they get a chance to be on national television playing in the NCAA Tournament. It is probably a life-long goal for many college basketball players.

Saturation coverage has become nauseating. ESPN is making me despise the tourney the same way it made me despise Brett Favre and LeBron James.

Here is a solution. Don't watch ESPN for your college basketball coverage. Read other college basketball analysts on the Internet (I know it is something basement-dwelling blog boys like) at other sites. There are other sources out there if Dan is tired of ESPN's coverage. I think Dan is just bitter ESPN has never invited him to be on "Around the Horn."

In the world of television commentary, every coach is pure and never responsible for NCAA violations. It was particularly disgusting to see Rick Pitino join the CBS crew hours after his team was eliminated.

How exactly was this disgusting to see? Pitino's actions in the past have been somewhat disgusting, but having him on as an analyst for CBS after his team is eliminated isn't really disgusting. He knows something about college basketball and his face being on CBS gets the Louisville name out to recruits. It is not like Pitino is hurting Louisville's program in any way by being seen on CBS. Banging women in the back of Italian restaurants? That's another story.

Is Dan suggesting Pitino was more concerned about a potential gig with CBS rather than coaching his team well in the first round? Bill Self joined the studio last year after his Kansas team lost to Northern Iowa. Was that disgusting as well? Does this mean he gave up on his Kansas team so he could be on CBS? I doubt it. I think Dan is searching hard for reasons to be critical right now.

In March Madness, it’s always about the coaches more than the kids.

I'm pretty sure paying a Louisville player to comment on college basketball would violate his amateur status. So when it comes to hiring coaches or players to comment on games, the coaches are preferable.

You have to love the astronomical salaries of these guys, many of whom make more money than the entire English department at your average NCAA school.

Thanks Gregg Easterbrook. The athletic programs "these guys" coach also make more money for the average NCAA school than the English department does. This is most likely a sad, but true fact. So, they are compensated for the amount of money they bring into the school as revenue.

It’s safest to assume that all the schools and coaches are cheating. It’s just a matter of degree.

How's that for a blanket statement that provides no proof of evidence? How is it safe to assume all coaches and schools are cheating? Is it safe to assume this, or is it just convenient to assume this so Dan Shaughnessy can prove his point? I hate it when a sportswriter makes an assumption that is used to prove the point he wants to make and the assumption he makes is completely arguable in its truth. I am afraid stupid people believe the assumption and don't look at it speculatively.

It is possible all schools and coaches are cheating, but unfortunately I would require proof of this before I said this or wrote this down for others to see.

Today’s competition is seriously diluted. This year’s tournament featured a whopping 68 teams, and 13 of them had 11 or more losses.

So because there aren't as many top-end teams, then the tournament is less fun because it is less predictable? The fact there are more balanced teams doesn't mean the competition is diluted, it can also mean the talent is spread out across college basketball more than it used to be. Do we really want to go back to the days when a team could win 4 national titles in a row? I don't.

In the good old days, it was one team per conference.

How the hell is this an improvement? How the hell does this improve the tournament? I would ask Dan these two questions he undoubtedly would not be able to answer (unfortunately the Dan Line is busy right now...he's probably talking to Danny Woodhead). One team per conference doesn't improve the product, it doesn't make college basketball any more clean (in fact, it would dirty it up because schools would do anything they could to win their conference), and the "old days" really weren't so good. It just seems that way. The old days of college basketball really weren't as good as some would think.

The 1974 Maryland Terrapins, one of the greatest college teams ever (six NBA draftees), couldn’t make it to the NCAA tourney because they lost the conference championship game to North Carolina State (103-100 in overtime).

How the hell is this a good thing? Does Dan really believe this is good for college basketball? How is leaving a team that went 23-5 out of the NCAA Tournament good for college basketball and superior to how the tournament is set up today?

I would go as far as to say anyone who thinks one team per conference in the NCAA Tournament is good for college basketball does not like college basketball. 68 teams is about as much expanding as the NCAA Tournament should go, but there is parity in college basketball and the fact there aren't dominant teams in the NCAA Tournament is not a bad thing.

That never happens now. The NCAA this year invited 11 teams from the Big East, which makes the conference tournament a joke.

No, it doesn't. This one incident of 11 teams from one conference getting in the NCAA Tournament doesn't take away from the Big East tournament any more than the regular season took away from the Big East tournament.

And don’t you just love the way the NCAA pompously insists that we refer to the players as “student-athletes’’? Bull.

I will not defend the NCAA on this matter. Players from teams that make the Final Four will have missed nearly a month of classes or at least missed parts of classes for a month. The NCAA uses the whole "students will miss too much class" reasoning when it is convenient for them.

What a shocker! The NCAA is a huge hypocrisy! I have learned to accept this and enjoy the sporting events. Maybe that makes me a terrible person.

Twenty-one of the 68 teams in the tournament have graduation success rates under 50 percent for their African-American players.

Fun with numbers! I like how Dan throws this statistic out there to impress everyone, but doesn't give it any impact by comparing it to the graduation success rate of African-American players who aren't athletes or aren't playing for a school in the NCAA Tournament.

So I will be the one to show how this isn't as terrible of a number as it initially may seem. 59% of African-American Division-I male student-athletes graduate, while 38% of African-American male students graduate. I couldn't find the figures for the 68 individual schools in the NCAA Tournament, but it wouldn't shock me if for most of the colleges African-American male student-athletes graduate at a higher rate than the general African-American male student population.

A large number of the players have zero connection to the campus lives of the schools they represent.

I haven't found this to be true in my experience. I went to two Division-I colleges and I was in class with athletes, went to parties with athletes, hung out at the same bars as athletes, played pick-up sports with athletes and socially knew athletes. At Appalachian State I lived where every basketball player and many football players on the team lived and I interacted with them. My sister went to UNC and had classes with UNC basketball, baseball and football players. I just find this statement not to be true for a large number of players.

Do you know a kid who goes to Syracuse? Cool. Ask him or her if they’ve ever taken a class with or interacted with any of the basketball players.

I would bet there are many people who have. Do athletes get special academic treatment? Probably, but at big or small schools many athletes are a part of the general student population. Dan is wrong about this in my mind.

Ultimately, March Madness is a competition of recruitment. Which coach was able to assemble the best players?

To an extent, possibly, but isn't this true many times in all sports? I don't think anyone would argue Butler or Duke had the best players last year, and even after assembling great athletes the coach still has to coach them well. Ask John Calipari about that.

If anything, college basketball is less about which coach can get the best talent on his team than it used to be. Ever notice what John Wooden's UCLA Bruins roster looked like during many of his tournament championships? It was loaded.

Isn’t it a miracle how Kansas attracts so many city kids to the flat farmland of whitebread Lawrence, Kan.?

No, it is not a miracle. Kansas has a great basketball history and they often place their players in the NBA. I don't think it is simply because Kansas backs up to their door with a massive amount of cash. It is because Kansas has a great tradition, you can meet famous alumni, get on national television and they have a pipeline to the NBA. College basketball can be a bit trashy at times, but I think it is more ignorant than naive to believe UNC had to pay Harrison Barnes to come to UNC.

If you are Marcus Teague (Kentucky incoming PG), if you want to go play in the NBA, where do you go? Kentucky where John Calipari has put Tyreke Evans, Derrick Rose, Eric Bledsoe, Brandon Knight (soon) and John Wall in the NBA. Did John Calipari do something unethical to get these players into school? Maybe, but the scandals mostly happen with getting the kids INTO college, rather than having them attracted to the school. Maybe I am naive.

Coach Cal said it all last spring when his entire starting lineup (four freshmen) was selected in the first round of the NBA draft. Cal said it was the greatest night in the history of Kentucky basketball.

John Calipari doesn't speak for every coach or college basketball as a whole. Let's not act like he does.

The mission is no longer about winning NCAA championships. It’s about getting kids into the pros — even if you have to rig their high school and college transcripts.

So Dan Shaughnessy wants to talk about dirty programs and dirty coaches? How about some of the stuff that went on in John Wooden's (YES! John Wooden, the greatest of all coaches who just happened to have the greatest talent on his teams as well. Wooden had guys around his program, like coaches do today, he couldn't get rid of) UCLA program? Wooden's program wasn't completely clean, so it is not like this is a modern problem.

College athletes who want to go to the NBA, and are talented enough to go there, are being prepared for their future career playing college basketball. College students are also being prepared for their future career. If I had gotten an offer from a company as a junior in college that offered me $200,000/year I would have left college and taken it and not thought twice about it.

As far as rigging high and college transcripts, Dan is talking in generalities or merely about John Calipari on this issue. He has no further proof of this happening, though we know it does. Still, vague accusations of what he "knows" happens isn't proof of this happening.

The sanctimonious, phony NCAA occasionally sanctions violators, but the college police don’t traditionally hassle prestigious “programs.’’ It’s a selective, subjective gendarmerie.

So the absence of violations on prestigious programs is a sign they don't get policed, not a sign they aren't doing anything to deserve NCAA violations? I think I got it. It is not that Syracuse doesn't do anything wrong, it is that the NCAA turns a blind eye...that's why they haven't gotten caught. What terrible logic.

Yesterday I asked the estimable Bob Ryan how he still can love the tourney despite all the obvious hypocrisy and corruption.

Dan Shaughnessy is obsessed with Bob Ryan. Ryan is Shaughnessy's authority on everything.

So I watched Kentucky and West Virginia — bag-man Calipari vs. bag-man Bob Huggins. Then I washed away all the dirt.

Yahoo. Boola boola. Go team.

Dan Shaughnessy sucks. He writes an entire column about how college basketball is so dirty, uses John Calipari and Bob Huggins as his only examples and then makes a blanket statement that ALL programs are dirty like this, they just don't get caught. Maybe it is true, maybe it isn't. The fact programs don't get caught doesn't mean they are dirty though.

All I know is until something is proven, I wouldn't indict all Division-I athletic teams for supposed violations. Of course I am not a professional writer like Dan Shaughnessy. He has journalistic integrity, so he requires no proof for the things he says before making blanket statements.


JimA said...

Dan Shaughnessy has been on Around The Horn (it's sad that I know that). It's funny that just a couple of weeks ago he was bitching about Harvard not making the tournament. Now there are too many teams. I guess the only legitimate schools are in Boston.

Bengoodfella said...

Jim, I didn't know he was on ATH. Full disclosure is that I don't watch it that often, but I was assuming he wasn't allowed on.

That's a great point and I am kicking myself not catching it. Just two weeks ago he wanted Harvard in and now it is too big. What's funny is Harvard didn't win their conference, yet he wanted them in the tourney a few weeks ago. I hate I missed that one. Easy contradiction to catch. One week he wants a non-conference winner in and then next week he says he misses the days when conference winners only made it.

So basically, the schools that need to get in are conference winners and Harvard.

Martin F. said...

A thread jack, but I just found out that the Duff McKagan who writes for ESPN is actually the Duff McKagan from Guns and Roses. Ya know what? He's not bad. Writes a weekly column from a passionate but intelligent fans perspective, and apparently reads the comments that people leave to his columns also. Nothing spectacular, or full of "special insider" knowledge or coffee nerdness, but a nice Seattle based column.

Sadly, he is a better read then at least half the current ESPN roster.

ivn said...

maybe by "pudding" he means the steak-and-kidney pudding/black pudding/etc. that people in Ireland and the UK eat. as you know, all bloggers are actually loveable cockney chimney sweeps.

and fantasy football is totally legit. Rick Reilly and the fat guy from "Entourage" play it!

I like how every year during the Tournament or the bowl season, crusty sportswriters hunch over their typewriters (computers are for basement-dwelling nerds) and hammer out the tried and true diatribe bemoaning the corruption endemic to big-time college football and college hoops. They are far from the only corrupt and greedy enterprises in the athletic world (let alone society at large); it's just an excuse for cranky guys like our friend CHB here to piss and moan about something popular that they have no personal stake in.

rich said...

Going off what Jim said, it's hilarious that this article was written. Two weeks ago he's complaining that Harvard should be in the tournament, meaning that he thinks that the tournament is important enough that getting the chance to play (likely) a single game.

Now he comes out and says it's a farce? Huh?

Either it's a farce and no one should care whether or not Harvard should go or it's important and debating Harvard's inclusion is worthwhile.

I guess in a sportswriters world, everything is conveniently what you need it to be!

Bengoodfella said...

Martin, I haven't read anything from Duff McKagen. I may try to read what he writes. When does he post columns usually?

Ivn, I think your last paragraph summed it up perfectly. This article wasn't even about this, but the NCAA is screwed up, there is no doubt about that. I did not know that all bloggers are cockney chimney sweeps, that's interesting to know! I wonder if Dan believes life is like "Mary Poppins?"

What I found to be most ridiculous is that no one really pays attention to the NCAA Tournament. He said he couldn't find someone who can name five players? Really? Anyone no one watches? The ratings scream a different story.

Rich, I'm so angry for missing that point. He writes an article that says Harvard should be in the tourney and then follows this article up with an article about how only conference winners should be in. Dan was pretty angry that Harvard got left out for the tourney to be a farce.

Yes, that. That last sentence. Unfortunately, for many writers that is how it is. Argue a point and then later argue a separate point that contradicts the original point.