It’s that time of year again – Major League (best sports movie ever) is on rerun, you’re still battling your St Patrick ’s Day hangover, and your annoying co-worker is working his bracket game on the office like he was Larry Eustachy at frat party. That means hoards of people taking off work Thursday and Friday, taking lunch breaks at the bar, and lost productivity. It’s time for March Madness indeed.
However, the NCAA tournament is more watered down today than your $2 rum and coke at your favorite dive bar. Yes, it still gets the job done and leads to questionable decisions yet still remains most sports fanatics favorite time of year. There are elements from yesteryear that could help give it a boost it desperately needs. It is time to flashback to the days when the ‘Cuse was in the house and examine 4 things to bring back to give the tourney the kick start it needs.
Gus Johnson and Bill Raftery:
There is no question Gus is the best and most exciting voice from March Madness in the last decade. Raftery provides commentary like no one else as if he were broadcasting a porn scene on crack. Together this tandem provided exciting calls, meaningful insight, and a passion greater than Magic Johnson’s addiction to publicity. Yes Gus defected to FOX, but CBS brings in Steve Kerr and Marv Albert from TNT, and Jay Bilas from ESPN. So let’s get this duo back together so we can get an order of onions and game winners.
Screen Printed Autographs during player introductions:
This brings you back to the Final Four parties at your Uncle Tim’s house when your parents and their friends slugged Old Milwaukee and Bud Ice while you watched UNLV and Anderson Hunt curb stomp Duke in the title game. The loud player introductions in the big dome arenas were even better as the players in skin tight warms ups got out of their court side seats and ran onto the floor to the cheers of thousands. As they were announced and did their high fives, their autographs were screen-printed onto the screen. At a time when I loved sports autographs, nothing got me more pumped up for the game than seeing my favorite player Larry Johnson’s signature come across the screen.
Pat O’Brien in the CBS studio:
Pat O’Brien was a sports czar behind the desk and was a most masterful and gracious host to the best sports tournament. Maybe it was his love of the sauce or experience with big sporting events, but he was able to be a great entertainer and give you the storylines you wanted. Before Greg Gumbel donned the lead chair in the studio, POB was the lead voice that took you from the studio all the way to the nets being cut down in Indianapolis, giving you all of the info you needed in a grand matter. Now sober, it would still be great to see POB one last time.
Teddy Pendergrass rendition of One Shining Moment:
One Shining Moment is my favorite part of the tournament as it wraps up the wild three weeks by cultivating all of the emotions from the tournament into a 3 minute roller coaster of a clip. Teddy Pendergrass (RIP) is the most synonymous name to this great montage. However, CBS recently gave the microphone to Jennifer Hudson and she responded with a performance of the song that made your drunk girlfriend’s karaoke sound like a Grammy performance. It was an absolute disservice and disgrace. Thankfully CBS went back to Luther Vandross (RIP) who does a fine job, but there is no substitute for the golden pipes and passion that Pendergrass brought in the early and mid-nineties.
Certainly the NCAA Tournament is the best tournament in sports and I will always be glued to the TV while losing productivity at work. That said, with the recent spike in social media and Sportscenter being worse than the movie Shallow Hal, March Madness could use a little tweaking. Getting back to some old traditions would help to give it the boost it needs.
What are your favorite traditions? And what would you like to see CBS bring back to today’s version of March Madness?
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