A very exciting NCAA tournament is barreling toward the denouement with only Wichita State, Syracuse, Louisville, and Michigan still standing. March Madness did not disappoint. There were plenty of upsets, clutch shots, and dramatics for hoops aficionados all over the globe. But while the players on these college squads continue to achieve at a high athletic level, some of those covering the games and many of those watching are grossly, shall we say, underachieving.
It’s bad enough when loud mouth fans spout off about a particular team or athlete with very little knowledge or frame of reference to back up their points. But when analysts and those covering sports sloppily botch that coverage, it has a ripple effect.
Judging by the favoritism and slanted reports from the “lamestream” media, people should probably know better, but when it comes to sports most still trust the reporters, anchors, and announcers who bring us the games we tune in to. Unfortunately, the words coming from many behind the mic are often misleading and sometimes, now more than ever, they’re flat out incorrect.
A radio reporter in a top-ten market city said La Salle’s win over Kansas State was the first NCAA Tournament victory for the Explorers in over twenty years. Actually, it was La Salle’s second tourney win in three days! The play-in game against Boise State counts as a tournament game. Yes, it has that ‘first four’ feel to it, but it still counts. If it didn’t, why was the LaSalle-Kansas State match-up billed as a second round contest? Confusing? Maybe. If you’re getting paid to cover it though, you should know better.
Ohio State’s run ended against the upstart Shockers, but before being ousted, the Buckeyes notched a pair of last second wins. Too bad at least one anchor gave the credit for one of the victories to another school. After Aaron Croft’s buzzer beater eliminated Iowa State, a radio sports anchor in a major market city reported “Ohio beat the Cyclones.” Congratulations to the Bobcats for becoming the first team ever to win a game they weren’t involved in. Come on! You are a professional anchor and you don’t know the difference between The Ohio State University and Ohio University? Slip of the tongue? Perhaps. But, don’t we deserve careful, accurate information?
During the national TV broadcast of the Indiana-Temple game, the color analyst went into a verbal dissertation about how the Owls will start to believe they can beat the Hoosiers the longer they keep it close. What is he talking about? Indiana, a good team that certainly had a chance at winning it all, is far from a clone of Jerry Tarkanian’s UNLV group from the early 90s. We saw that just one short round later when the Orange sent Tom Crean’s crew packing. Also, Temple is no 15-seed. Fran Dunphy has guided the Owls to the big dance year after year and they posted multiple wins over tournament teams this season including an 83-79 decision over Georgia-bound Syracuse. We get what the analyst was trying to do, but his categorization of both teams was flawed.
Then, there are the low information fans. You know, the guy that comes up to you at Hooters to tell you he has one of your team’s players on his fantasy team. If you’re like me, the rest of the game you hope your team wins but you also hope that player doesn’t do much, just so your unwanted new acquaintance doesn’t get any points. Then there’s the guy who thinks the phrase “I’m a season ticket holder” makes him some sort of expert. Let’s not forget the guy who is a self-proclaimed “die-hard” but somehow mispronounces half the names on his team’s roster. This tournament, I heard some gems.
Craft’s big three for Ohio State was nice, but the overreaction was high in some circles. One fan told me he thought the shot should surpass Christian Laettner’s Kentucky dagger. Craft had over twenty seconds to pull the trigger and if he missed the game would’ve gone to overtime. Laettner had just a moment to drill his historic shot and if he misses, Duke goes home. No comparison.
Nothing though compares to the ignorance I heard on Easter. After the horrific injury to Louisville sophomore Kevin Ware, a gruesome break of the leg that makes even Joe Theismann feel fortunate, my ears had to suffer their own pain. One woman gave a patronizing “awww” when she saw the Cardinals players cry, as if she were watching her favorite YouTube video of kittens frolicking. She then gave her prognosis of Ware saying “he’ll be on crutches for awhile.” Ya think??? The man’s career may be done. He just suffered one of the worst, graphic, televised injuries in sports history and she acted as if he got a boo-boo.
Now for the world champion of ignoramuses. After the Ware injury was discussed further and looked at again and again online, a group talked about how bad they felt for the Louisville guard. The normal reaction. Then one woman chimed in with “he should try giving birth.” Nothing like compassion on Easter Sunday.
So, to the players out there who hear unwarranted criticism and to the good fans who are astonished by some of the comments bandied about regarding players, coaches, and teams … don’t fret. Consider the source and try to enjoy the games despite some hard to avoid interference.