The Big Dance

I guess there’s a reason they call it March Madness.

Watching the NCAA men’s and women’s basketball games, I’m struck by how different the game feels from what we played as kids in P.E. class.

Besides being taller (w-a-a-a-y taller!) than most of us were, these young men and women are tougher. More aggressive, even.

Sure, there’s a lot riding on the outcome of their games. Prestige, trophies, money, commemorative rings, bragging rights.

But what’s with those other changes?

  • Chest-bumping. The guys don’t have a corner on this market; even the women are getting into the act, slamming themselves up against one another after somebody does something commendable. I know they probably wear those binding sports bras, but I cringe every time they do it.
  • Tattoos. Again, you kind of expect to see some of the young men sporting tattoos, but when the women start falling into that fad, I shudder. Isn’t it enough to have small tattoos that can be concealed? Why must they decorate their entire arms with graffiti? I mean, one day some of these people are going to be working in offices, banks, legal firms, medical plazas. Might they (or their employers) regret their “artistic” indulgence? Besides, I’ve got to confess that the unadorned arms, in my opinion, look cleaner. Just sayin’.
  • Traveling. Taking even one step with the ball without dribbling was considered a traveling foul for us in P.E. Now we see players take huge lunging leaps toward the goal, and the refs seem unfazed.
  • Penetration. Why is this word a sports announcer’s favorite word? You always hear the male announcers use it — you can hardly watch for five minutes without hearing it — but now the females are coming on board with it. They almost make it sound nasty.
  • Clock. The NCAA doesn’t use an automated clock for these championship games. Surprised? So was I when I read about it this morning. All of the teams who get to the championship level are good. Real good. And they deserve to have their contests monitored by something other than a timekeeper and a stopwatch. Especially when a first-class timing system wouldn’t cost much and would eliminate so much confusion.