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Drummer Boy

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College sports: Why all the hysteria?
« on: November 23, 2014, 03:40 »
I've never really understood it myself. Unless you're the parent of one or more of the participants, why are college sports held in such high regard, with such reverence, and able to generate such intense, emotional responses from the newsrooms, to the office spaces,  to the bars?

Is this mostly a twisted, U.S.A. phenomenon, or do other countries embrace this same fanatical response to their own collegiate sports scene as well?

Are those of you outside of the U.S. aware of, or exposed to, the the American college sports scene that seems to consume everyone right up to the President?

I understand all the usual arguments in favor: There is the contagious enthusiasm of youth, they are generally playing for the love of the game as opposed to huge paychecks, there is perhaps more innocence and purity in these sports than what is often found in the pro ranks.

But is the continued and bludgeoning hype really necessary?
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  • LukasCPH

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    Re: College sports: Why all the hysteria?
    « Reply #1 on: November 23, 2014, 07:51 »
    In short: Nobody outside the US gives a sh*t.

    Of course college/university students play various sports in Europe[1] as well, and they may also participate in competitions - but mostly it's in sport clubs that have nothing to do with the university. Or, if they are in a university sport club, it's mostly for practical reasons (grounds next to university, so no need to travel far; cheaper membership fees). Athletic scholarships are completely unheard of.
    The exception is the UK, of course, with the Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race etc.

    Enormous stadia on the university campus, filled to the brim with students, professors, alumni and family members who all (I presume) pay good money to watch their fellow students play football etc. against another university's team, broadcasted live on TV ... that's a US phenomenon.


    Personally, I view the system with a lot skepticism: The universities make a lot of money on their unpaid athletes - from entrance fees and, especially, TV deals. In most cases, much more than the value of the scholarships these athletes receive. And, to preserve the 'amateur' illusion, the athletes aren't allowed to make any money themselves. Even selling autographs is prohibited, and this is enforced as vigourously as only US-Americans can.
    The college sport coaches, on the other hand, are paid handsomely. Often the college football coach of a US state's university is the best-paid public employee of that state, earning far more than the governor, the university's principal or highly-specialised surgeons at public hospitals.

    Only the best athletes will get a professional contract. Yes, in their pro career they'll earn a sh*tload of money that's completely out of proportions, but that's only true for those that 'make it'. All the others got is a free college education - which is the standard for everyone in many European countries, regardless of someone's athletic prowess. And as they had to concentrate on their athletic career during college, I question how well-educated they indeed are.
    Coupled with the fact that high-performance sport isn't exactly healthy (especially not American Football), I consider the US college sports system to be extremely exploitative.
     1. that is, Denmark & Germany; don't know what it's like elsewhere, but probably similar
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    Re: College sports: Why all the hysteria?
    « Reply #2 on: November 23, 2014, 10:31 »
    In Australia there is almost no College/University sports hype whatsoever.

    Many universities have sports teams -either cross university leagues or just teams in local leagues ...   but its just local or state level sport.

    Its not hyped.  Its only ever watched by the parents and participants.

    There are no cheerleeders, no huge stadiums, no radio or television coverage ... and almost no sports scholarships either.
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  • Drummer Boy

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    Re: College sports: Why all the hysteria?
    « Reply #3 on: November 23, 2014, 15:36 »
    In short: Nobody outside the US gives a sh*t.
    You just made my day! :win

    Quote
    Athletic scholarships are completely unheard of.
    I hadn't even considered that aspect of it. Fascinating.


    Quote
    And as they had to concentrate on their athletic career during college, I question how well-educated they indeed are.
    As so you should. An acquaintance of mine was once a tutor for basketball players at his university. He was so disgusted by the preferential treatment given to the athletes, and to the loose academic standards applied to them, that he never once stepped foot inside their famous stadium. A very minor protest, perhaps, but there was little more he could do.

    Around here, basketball is king. The University of Connecticut has produced multiple national championship teams with both the men and the women.

    Talk about hype and hysteria?!  :o

    Interestingly though, the success of these programs was not the cause of such mania. Long before any trophies were won, the fans were rabid in their support. Part of this may be due to the fact that many alumni of the school still live in the area. State Universities are much more affordable for residents than other schools, so that is one reason many locals attend. But then the party atmosphere that surrounds sporting events is perfectly suited to college-age youth and those both slightly younger and older.

    Many years ago I used to live right next to door to a popular local bar. Game day at this place was something to behold. The streets would be lined with cars, and the cheers and tears from within would be audible from my apartment. This was long before any National Titles were claimed, so needless to say, the season always ended in disappointment. From the reaction to some of these dramatic losses, one would've thought that the world had just ended. The despair was indescribable. Grown men and women crying and wailing as if loved ones had just been massacred. This would then pour out into the streets in a pathetic display of drunkenness. In the few years I lived there, I only ever stepped inside that place once.

    As an aside...
    In order to amuse ourselves, my roommate and I created a "sport" of our own. The alley between our apartment and the bar was usually shrouded in darkness. As a result, it often became a favorite spot for these fools to relieve themselves due to the overcrowded room from which they had emerged. As they were "watering" the brick wall outside our window (which resulted in disgusting fumes wafting through our apartment), we would toss water balloons from two stories up. 

    Talk about an angry mob!  :o  :D

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  • Drummer Boy

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    Re: College sports: Why all the hysteria?
    « Reply #4 on: November 23, 2014, 16:11 »
    In Australia there is almost no College/University sports hype whatsoever.

    There are no cheerleeders, no huge stadiums, no radio or television coverage ... and almost no sports scholarships either.
    But are you exposed to U.S. college sports at all?

    I'm just curious if this insanity has an international reach or not.

    Events such as the long-running Yale-Harvard football game have such a nearly mythical history to them that I wonder how much of this stupidity is exported. I wonder if there is profit to be made in the overseas market.

    When I was very young, probably 7 or 8-years-old, I attended one of these repulsive events. My parents weren't rich or well connected, but some of their friends certainly were. I remember being outside the famous Yale Bowl, in anticipation of that year's battle against the arch rival Harvard. The tail-gating parties, with the wine, cheese, and tacky plaid pants of the spoiled elite were off-putting even at that tender age. I didn't understand any of it, but I knew I didn't like it, or the people I was surrounded by. I've always found excessive wealth and privilege to be repulsive on many levels. Attending a Yale-Harvard game only amplifies much of that in the most grotesque way.


    And just to clarify the original topic: Basketball and American football are really the only two sports around which this madness revolves. I can't think of any other sports that generate the same degree of national attention or media coverage.
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  • L'arri

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    Re: College sports: Why all the hysteria?
    « Reply #5 on: November 23, 2014, 17:42 »
    I might title my response "what hysteria?"

    In short: Nobody outside the US gives a sh*t.

    I'm afraid this reflects my view too. I have absolutely no awareness of the college sports phenomenon, such as it may be. I was in the airport at Atlanta a few years ago waiting on a connecting flight and they had "college football" on television. A bunch of kids I'd never heard of playing a sport I didn't understand.

    However, the only Little League Baseball game I ever attended could be described in much the same way and I loved that.

    There may be some sort of vaguely chauvinist sophistry there about great young hopes and innocent rivalry or whatever, but for me college is largely for academic study, doing drugs of all sorts and trying to get laid.

    I managed the first two although, on reflection, I would have liked to have done better on the third count. Perhaps my greatest lesson was that college is not the period in one's life for going steady with one partner. Sexual congress was the only sport that interested folks where I went. And maybe hockey.
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    Re: College sports: Why all the hysteria?
    « Reply #6 on: November 23, 2014, 18:03 »
    College basketball seems to be on the TV here on ESPN(no longer US owned since BT bought them out here) but i'd guess to very limited viewers.

    I wonder if the popularity in the US comes down to there being so many big cities and not enough top level teams to go around. No NBA team  so the college level is the next best thing?
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  • Carlo Algatrensig

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    Re: College sports: Why all the hysteria?
    « Reply #7 on: November 23, 2014, 18:14 »
    I've always assumed that part of the reason for it is that it is the direct route for the players to get into the professional game so you really will see the future generation of top level players where as in sports in the UK players by and large are already in the youth and junior systems of the professional clubs and so don't even go to college.

    I got a first hand experience of the high regard that college football is held in on a trip to the US. I also follow horse racing and I was in the States a few years back on the weekend of the Breeders Cup race meeting. I knew that NBC had the rights to televise the event so assumed that I'd be able to switch my hotel room TV to the local NBC channel and watch the horse racing. How wrong was I as the local NBC station had decided to not take the horse racing and instead show the local university's football game.
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  • DB-Coop

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    Re: College sports: Why all the hysteria?
    « Reply #8 on: November 23, 2014, 18:25 »
    It is an extended form of nationalism or regionalism really nothing much different than rooting for your Nation in the Olympics I would suppose.

    I think generally nobody cares outside of the region of these teams, ie nobody in California would care about the Yale-Harvard game yes?

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    Re: College sports: Why all the hysteria?
    « Reply #9 on: November 23, 2014, 18:50 »
    Only the best athletes will get a professional contract. Yes, in their pro career they'll earn a sh*tload of money that's completely out of proportions, but that's only true for those that 'make it'. All the others got is a free college education - which is the standard for everyone in many European countries, regardless of someone's athletic prowess. And as they had to concentrate on their athletic career during college, I question how well-educated they indeed are.
    Coupled with the fact that high-performance sport isn't exactly healthy (especially not American Football), I consider the US college sports system to be extremely exploitative.

    Most American pro athletes end up broke even though they make big money:


    Vince Young is a good example of somebody who you have to question in terms of his degree, VY scored a 6 on the wonderlic, below a 10 in considered to be mentally retarded, yet VY has a university degree. It reminds me of Dave Chappelle in the movie Blue Streak-
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  • froome19

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    Re: College sports: Why all the hysteria?
    « Reply #10 on: November 23, 2014, 18:51 »
    Well there is the Oxford - Cambridge Boat Race here.
    But that is a very isolated once a year occurrence and is an entirely different kettle of fish.

    And as has already been said, no one around here gets the whole infatuation with College Sports or even understand what it is entirely. Certainly no one cares much.
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    Re: College sports: Why all the hysteria?
    « Reply #11 on: November 23, 2014, 19:52 »
    I might title my response "what hysteria?"

    I'm afraid this reflects my view too. I have absolutely no awareness of the college sports phenomenon, such as it may be.

    And as has already been said, no one around here gets the whole infatuation with College Sports or even understand what it is entirely. Certainly no one cares much.
    You've no idea how much it warms my heart to hear this!  :D :win

    As for another example of the hysteria...
    When the Uconn men won their first national title, you would've thought the VE-Day was being reenacted in the capital city that evening. As it turned out, The Rolling Stones were performing that very night at our main Civic Center arena. Towards the end of the concert, they actually took a short pause to show the final moments of the game on the big screens. Immediately afterwards, it was pure bedlam on the streets downtown. Take all those now-hyped-up concert-goers pouring into the streets, and mix that will the fanatics that had already swollen the bars to capacity on that evening, and you had a scene unlike anything I've ever witnessed in these parts in my entire life.

    It was not far removed from the equally-inexpliacble street celebrations that took place after the takedown of Bin Laden that were broadcast around the globe.  :S
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  • Drummer Boy

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    Re: College sports: Why all the hysteria?
    « Reply #12 on: November 23, 2014, 19:58 »
    It is an extended form of nationalism or regionalism really nothing much different than rooting for your Nation in the Olympics I would suppose.
    Very true in many respects, but with the added element of fan dispersion. Alumni from any given school will obviously end up scattered around different parts of the country, so that anywhere across the land you will find fans and supporters of all different regions.

    Quote
    I think generally nobody cares outside of the region of these teams, ie nobody in California would care about the Yale-Harvard game yes?
    Again, to the above. The alumni are spread far and wide. Where they go, so goes the hysteria. And more often than not, the places they go to are the centers of power and influence—government and big business. So when the elite decide that something is important to them, it then becomes "important" to the masses.


    Just to add some food for thought:

    Both George Bush Jr, and George Sr attended Yale.
    As did Bill and Hillary Clinton.
    Al Gore and Barack Obama both attended Harvard.

    So there you have it.
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  • Drummer Boy

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    Re: College sports: Why all the hysteria?
    « Reply #13 on: November 23, 2014, 20:29 »
    I wonder if the popularity in the US comes down to there being so many big cities and not enough top level teams to go around. No NBA team so the college level is the next best thing?
    I think that is definitely one of the contributing factors, but even in cities such as Boston, which already has an enormous pro sports presence, there is a deep commitment to college sports.

    In defense of college basketball, I will say that the playoffs do offer far better entertainment than most of the pro season. It is officially referred to as "March Madness" for good reason. People go crazy for it. But the games are short (only 40 minutes of actually play time), and the pace is very high and energetic. So you can easily take in a few games in one evening. Add in all the timeouts, half-time, and other commercial breaks, and it's an advertisers dream come true—tons of content in a relatively short amount of time. Plus, these games are usually very close right to the very end, so the audience attention span is nearly guaranteed.

    The level of play and frequency of dramatic events can quite easily surpass that of the pros. A great shot, is a great shot, is a great shot.

    College football however is quite a bit different in my eyes. The level of skill is nowhere near that of the pros, and it's quite obvious when viewing it. The speed difference between collegiate level and pros on a small basketball court will be less noticeable, but on a wide-open football field it is much more evident. And there tends to be no real weak links in the pro ranks. There's no tolerance for that, and the multi-million dollar system need not allow for it.
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  • Drummer Boy

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    Re: College sports: Why all the hysteria?
    « Reply #14 on: November 23, 2014, 20:41 »
    I've always assumed that part of the reason for it is that it is the direct route for the players to get into the professional game so you really will see the future generation of top level players where as in sports in the UK players by and large are already in the youth and junior systems of the professional clubs and so don't even go to college.
    This is true as well. Top-level talent will rarely play out the full four years of college basketball if they have a chance to go to the pros early on. The rare ones will go straight from high school directly to the pros.

    Such a leap in football, however, would be near impossible. It simply takes time to get big enough and strong enough to survive in the NFL, not to mention learning the necessary skills of the game. Even top college prospects have spoken about how stunned they were at the sheer speed of play once they entered the pro ranks. It is truly a different league of play, with far more physical consequences for the unprepared.

    But you are correct. The top college players of today are the pros of tomorrow—in both sports. So for the die-hard fan, college sports provide a window to the future.


    The other issue at play, that I hadn't mentioned yet, is sports betting. This is a HUGE aspect of what drives the hysteria as well. Young and old alike will have spent more than they should on the hopes of their teams. This also explains, in part, both the elation and anguish on display in any sports bar at the conclusion of a big game. Money, money, money, money...
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  • L'arri

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    Re: College sports: Why all the hysteria?
    « Reply #15 on: November 23, 2014, 21:06 »
    Poor Drummer Boy, an American trapped in the soul of someone from just about any other country except America.  :angel :P :hug
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  • AG

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    Re: College sports: Why all the hysteria?
    « Reply #16 on: November 23, 2014, 23:08 »

    The other issue at play, that I hadn't mentioned yet, is sports betting. This is a HUGE aspect of what drives the hysteria as well. Young and old alike will have spent more than they should on the hopes of their teams. This also explains, in part, both the elation and anguish on display in any sports bar at the conclusion of a big game. Money, money, money, money...

    I was going to say that in Australia people simply dont care ...

    but DH went to a thing last week where he was talking to some bigwigs in gambling and online gaming websites ... and they said their busiest time is actually on betting for college basketball.

    So obviously some people in Aus DO actually give a toss at some point. 
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  • Drummer Boy

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    Re: College sports: Why all the hysteria?
    « Reply #17 on: December 13, 2014, 11:30 »
    A timely article on the sordid nature of it all.

    Ignoring Hard Truths in a Land of Fantasy

    Quote
    I sat for a beer with Diane Roberts, an English professor and essayist, who grew up in Tallahassee and inherited her daddy’s tickets and passion for the Seminoles. She is writing a book on football culture.

    She is cleareyed on the effect of too much entitlement on immature minds. She has a repository of stories — some from colleagues, some her own — about the shoals you run up on when you try to treat athletes like students. Sophisticated papers materialize suddenly; players develop medical conditions before they can fail a class.
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  • Tuart

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    Re: College sports: Why all the hysteria?
    « Reply #18 on: January 18, 2015, 21:51 »
    College sports in US baffles me.

    I think I see it as a way for them to tap into the large pool of potential sports athletes and funnel the best to the top, which is why they can be so dominating in so many sports.

    But yeah, Fus' skepticism, love it.
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    Icebreaker

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    Re: College sports: Why all the hysteria?
    « Reply #19 on: January 28, 2015, 15:32 »
    My recollection is that the OP is in the Pacific North West ...  ?

    If so, I am a mere 3 hours or so north of you, and College/University sports here are events payed by the athletes and often watched by a few hundred family or friends, maybe.

    There are exceptions of course, some of the traditional games such as the Vanier Cup or Shrum Bowl may attract a local cable TV channel to broadcast the game locally.

    Even hockey may get a few hundred students into the stands for games.

    A big part of it is simple.  There are no "Athletic Scholarships" in Canada.  Athletes may qualify for some odd bursaries that help with schooling costs, but the U.S. style scholarship is forbidden.

    Also, the big two sports in the US - basketball and football are really fringe sports on this side of th 49th.

    I also own a home in Arizona and am constantly amazed the facilities and hype at ASU for their "college sports" programs.  Their own golf course???
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  • Drummer Boy

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    Re: College sports: Why all the hysteria?
    « Reply #20 on: January 28, 2015, 21:32 »
    My recollection is that the OP is in the Pacific North West ...?

    Close. The Atlantic Northeast.  :P
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  • Icebreaker

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    Re: College sports: Why all the hysteria?
    « Reply #21 on: January 29, 2015, 04:09 »
    Close. The Atlantic Northeast.  :P

    Ah. Well then ....   I was close wasn't I?
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  • Capt_Cavman

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    Re: College sports: Why all the hysteria?
    « Reply #22 on: January 29, 2015, 10:21 »
    Well there is the Oxford - Cambridge Boat Race here.
    But that is a very isolated once a year occurrence and is an entirely different kettle of fish.

    And as has already been said, no one around here gets the whole infatuation with College Sports or even understand what it is entirely. Certainly no one cares much.
    The Boat Race is a very different kettle of fish in that they are (now) world cless crews. Given that international eights won't train for the distance, type of course and conditions the boat race is rowed over, I'd be surprised if even the best in the world could beat them.

    The Varsity Rugby match was traditionally played on a Tuesday afternoon if my memory serves me and as such never had much impact on the national conscience but certainly used to be an opportunity to spot future star players. Now you're more likely to spot former internationals as they (allegedly) trade on their Rugby prowess to enrol on postgraduate degree courses.
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  • LukasCPH

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    Re: College sports: Why all the hysteria?
    « Reply #24 on: March 18, 2015, 23:44 »
    March Madness is upon us.  :o

    There will be sixteen games played tomorrow for the start of this annual extravaganza. Yes, sixteen. In one day, from 12:00 to 10:00pm. Every corner of the media will be consumed by this.

    The Leader of the Free World playing his role, right on cue.



    This is important stuff.
    http://espn.go.com/mens-college-basketball/tournament/2015/story/_/id/12505909/president-barack-obama-bracket-picks-kentucky-ncaa-men-basketball-title

    Quote
    Last year, President Obama finished in the 72.9 percentile overall, but missed on national champion Connecticut.  :angry
    :lol

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  • Icebreaker

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    Re: College sports: Why all the hysteria?
    « Reply #25 on: March 19, 2015, 05:21 »
    Waitress at dinner tonight, in a restaurant in Scottsdale seemed completely mystified by my total lack of any meaningful reaction when she proclaimed that "March Madness started today!  Who do you pick to win it all?"

    I asked her what March Madness is.
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  • LukasCPH

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    Re: College sports: Why all the hysteria?
    « Reply #26 on: March 19, 2015, 06:59 »
    Waitress at dinner tonight, in a restaurant in Scottsdale seemed completely mystified by my total lack of any meaningful reaction when she proclaimed that "March Madness started today!  Who do you pick to win it all?"

    I asked her what March Madness is.
    You should have answered 'Alexander Kristoff. He can win both La Classicissima, Vlaanderens Mooiste and La Reine des Classiques.' :D
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  • Kiwirider

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    Re: College sports: Why all the hysteria?
    « Reply #27 on: March 19, 2015, 13:15 »
    If so, I am a mere 3 hours or so north of you, and College/University sports here are events payed by the athletes and often watched by a few hundred family or friends, maybe.

    There are exceptions of course, some of the traditional games such as the Vanier Cup or Shrum Bowl may attract a local cable TV channel to broadcast the game locally.

    Even hockey may get a few hundred students into the stands for games.

    Also, the big two sports in the US - basketball and football are really fringe sports on this side of th 49th.

    I'll both agree and disagree with your comments as they relate to things out the other side of the Great White North.

    We get all of the US college sports stuffed down our throat on cable out east - in between the coverage of NFL, NBA and Red-neck Roundie Round that whitewashes the 10 sports channels that come as part of standard package. So, sadly, I guess that means that US sports and US college sports are more than just fringe in our area.

    We're in Quebec, but because we take the english feed - parce que ma conjointe ne parle pas le francais - our overall cable package is heavily On-terrible focused, so I'm blaming them for the preoccupation! (Because if it's not the Habs, the Als, the Impact or anything involving speed - which includes my two favourites of bikes and skiing- 99% of Quebec's not interested!)

    Then again, to be fair to the On-terriblans ... if your only other option was to watch the Leafs embarrass themselves again or watch the Jays choke, I guess US sport is a better option ...    :-x :-x

    We also got all of the Canadian University games broadcast over here - but like you say, they're not in the same league as the NCAA or whatever it is down south of the snowline!

    As a somewhat related aside - a question for you:
    Can you explain why it is during the Olympics - winter or summer - that, with the exception of hockey, the official Canadian broadcasters are cheerleading for the US more than the Canadian athletes?? Definitely worse at the summer games than the winter. I'm not even a true "plastic Canadian" yet and it fair peeed me off - especially when there was a Canadian and a yank in the same race ... :angry :angry
  • ReplyReply

  • Drummer Boy

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    Re: College sports: Why all the hysteria?
    « Reply #28 on: March 22, 2015, 02:44 »
    The answers you've all been waiting for.  ;)

    March Madness 2015: a guide for non-fans

    Quote
    March Madness (the trademarked nickname for the NCAA's annual 68-team tournament to determine the men's basketball champion) is a cultural event, one that's swelled beyond the normal boundaries of the sports world.



    Quote
    Filling out a bracket — for the uninitiated — means predicting the winner of each game in the entire tournament. Millions of people do it, either in office pools or in officially sanctioned competitions on sites like ESPN and CBS.

    One interesting note: it's essentially impossible to pick an entirely perfect bracket. Last year, Warren Buffett and Quicken Loans offered $1 billion to anyone who got their bracket perfect, but no one claimed it — because your odds of picking every single game correctly are somewhere between 1 in 5 billion and 1 in 135 billion. After day one of the tournament, in fact, just 273 out of 11.57 million people playing in ESPN's bracket competition still had perfect ones.

    Quote
    March Madness is the rare modern sports event where the payoff is actually bigger than the hoopla leading up to it. The first few rounds, in particular, feature lots of games going on at once, and many of them finish with buzzer beaters or dramatic comebacks.
    Quote
    40 MILLION PEOPLE FILLED OUT BRACKETS LAST YEAR, BETTING $9 BILLION  :S

    Quote
    THE NCAA SELLS THE TV RIGHTS FOR ABOUT $831 MILLION EACH YEAR  :o


    It is what it is.
  • ReplyReply

  • LukasCPH

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    Re: College sports: Why all the hysteria?
    « Reply #29 on: December 01, 2015, 20:20 »
    I stumbled upon an interesting article about the multi-million business that college sports (especially college football) has become:
    Washington Post: Playing In The Red

    Really worth reading.
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