It has begun. The Madness. The most exhilarating, glass-slipper wearing two and half weeks of competition that mankind has devised yet to serve as an introduction to the song “One Shining Moment.” (That’s the song they pair with a video montage at the end of the tournament that would hold its own in tug-of-war against any cute kitten video on YouTube using your heart-strings as the rope.) That’s right, March Madness is all about, the personal interest stories. Well, at least 90%. Slight exaggeration? Yes. Do we care about factual accuracy? No. So that makes us right.
No, we aren’t idiots. We know that the NCAA men’s (sorry ladies) basketball tournament is actually about a big group of scholarly young gentlemen who collectively ask their teachers for a hallpass to leave the rigors of academia to play basketball. Coincidentally, it is also about a big group of older gentlemen whose employers are probably considering renaming the month of March to “31 Reasons to Send American Jobs Overseas”.
Alright. Fine. We admit that we actually have no idea what we are talking about because honestly, we don’t believe that sports that don’t include the words “fantasy” or “football” in their names even exist. So please, help us out with answering this one:
Every year, in every NCAA basketball tournament, there emerges this dude. We don’t know from where he comes, and until his name is used as a substitute for the letter “e” by all sports broadcast networks, we didn’t know that either. Nonetheless, he is real. At least, he becomes real, very real. He becomes the poster child for the entire tournament, the entirety of college athletics and all that is good and worth striving for in life. He can’t miss. His teammates disappear. All of his fouls are forgiven and the refs that called them are fired and / or eaten. The networks gives him so much love that you would swear that they have all become infomercials selling opportunities to kiss this young man’s tush for 3 easy payments of $19.95. Enough? No! The NCAA gladly hires additional towel boys to run out on to the court during timeouts to collect all of the panties thrown by the announcers… enough? Ok.
We’re exaggerating again, but our point is this: the tournament’s special interest stories seem to have a tendency to culminate into an über interest story about an über guy. He seems to emerge from a cast of characters as the tournament winds on and his name is ridden as long as it has legs. And, if our records are correct, this Prince Charming Champion Pal-O-Mine from Next Door tends to be white.
“What?” No. Not, “what”. We said “white”. Yes, white.
Now, we have our theories about this, and we imagine that most of them are wrong. Perhaps a story about a white athlete is of more interest to more (white) Americans than a non-white athlete. Perhaps more (white) Americans feel more comfortable forming emotional bonds via satellite-aided telecasting with a 20 year old kid whom they will never meet than they would with a non-white, or even bi-racial, kid. (Nope, not playing “halfsies” here. Just ask Barack Obama how having one white parent and one black parent plays out in winning the hearts of Middle-America.) Perhaps.
If you’ve read this far, thanks. We’ll leave you alone right after asking you one final question to ponder while you try to enjoy one of the most exciting annual sporting events in spite of these network shenanigans: Who will emerge as the National NCAA Near-and-Dear Heartthrob for 2012 AND will he be white?
Now, if you will excuse us we have an appointment scheduled with Tyler Zeller’s publicist.