The NCAA is a curious organization.
Everyone else in sports and show business understands you don’t head-to-head with blockbuster events. Other networks don’t waste popular programming against the Super Bowl. You don’t put one of your big shows opposite the Academy Awards. You don’t take a new series you feel good about and air it at the same time as “American Idol.”
But the NCAA says this: Let’s jam other championships into the third weekend of March, even though that’s when we have our ultra-beloved, highly watched men’s basketball tournament.
The NCAA Division I wrestling championships in Philadelphia concluded Saturday night. That was while American sports fans were primarily concerned about one thing, the D-I men’s basketball tourney.
The NCAA women’s basketball tournament began Saturday with daylong coverage on the ESPNs, and today features another slate of 16 games. Much of it was placed right into the time slot of, that’s right, the D-I men’s basketball tourney.
And while its second and third weeks of games won’t directly crash into much of the men’s tournament, the women’s tournament is still held during the same weeks when the American sports public is focused on the men’s event.
Is that not strange?
Now, there is a reality to face here. No matter when the women’s tournament and the national wrestling tourney are held, they will have small audiences compared to the men’s basketball extravaganza. So the difference in television ratings or national attention wouldn’t be huge no matter when they were moved.
But still, shouldn’t the women’s basketball and wrestling people be doing everything they can to draw at least a little more awareness to their sports by seeking out their own time-frames?
I’ve heard wrestling people talk about this forever, but when are they going to adjust their sport’s calendar so it builds to a conclusion either in February or April?
ESPN telecast Saturday’s wrestling finals, and that’s truly fantastic. But if you were a sports fan and not a wrestling-first fan, you were watching NCAA basketball at the same time the wrestling aired.
Why doesn’t women’s basketball alter its season to finish before or after the men. Is the air time for the national-tourney not as available any other time with ESPN? If so, is that enough of a reason?
I would think having the women’s tourney finish the weekend before the conference tournaments on ESPN or a week or two after the men’s tourney is done would let the women’s tourney breathe a little more.
Even though the women’s championship game has its own night, it’s the night after the men’s title game. Aren’t we all a little basketballed out by then and ready to slide into baseball or the Masters or just being outside?
Undoubtedly, I’ll get correspondence from people explaining why now is the best times for the grappling and women’s hoops. I won’t buy it.
If the Super Bowl is on, I’m not doing much channel-surfing. Same goes for the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, unless it’s to go from one of its games to another. So fix this, NCAA. Just do it.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a Michigan-Duke game to plan my day around.