Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Fans Disguised as Empty Seats at NCAA Tourney

College basketball is big business, and as in any sport, the biggest business of all comes during the playoffs - in this case of course, the NCAA tournament. This year's tournament didn't have a lot of Cinderella's or major upsets, but it did have a fair amount of great marquee matchups.

What's puzzling then, is that when you turn on the games - big important games, between college basketball powerhouses, Michigan State, Kansas, North Carolina, Louisville, those types of teams - you often see a sea of empty seats.

The NCAA tournament draws millions of viewers of course, but not many are at the arena. What's more, is that the games don't exactly have the same kind of pizzaz that big conference season games do, mostly because of the crowds. Of course, some venues are worse than others - Miami's first round games were only half full (just like Miami's World Baseball Classic games) - but theoretically games of this magnitude shouldn't be played in front of empty seats.

Were the games actually regionalized in more than name only, perhaps more students and fans could actually go to the games. It's a big commitment to go across the country to see your team play, especially when there's a fair chance that your team may be out of it by the time gametime rolls around.

Perhaps it's time for NCAA to realize that its fans are its number one priority, and that they need to fill the arenas, not just draw TV viewers.