Being forced to watch Sportscenter when you don't want to should be a crime. I can catch up with all the scores and highlights without being subjected to the not-so-subtle name drops and product placements. In fact, as of late, I've taken to the soothing sounds of NBA.com for all my needs. Having watched tonight, though, I stumbled upon the fantastic revelation that ESPN's mind-control cannot subvert the regionalism of sports.
Let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up.
I was raised on the beauty of College Basketball, and converted to loving the NBA. Whither goest Tobacco Road's underdog darlings (the often forlorn and forgotten North Carolina State), goest my family. I often, while not really paying attention, get text messages or calls in disappointment without knowing a score or being worried about the "big game."
In fact, most of my friends pledge allegiance to the UNC or Duke flags. Of the three people I know that actually attended the college, precisely none of them knows dick about basketball. Only one of them feigns caring about the team, but not all that often. Her husband and share the allegiance of Wolpackery.
So, then, why are colleges than none of attended so important? It's a confluence of ideas: regionalism playing a huge part-- the Panthers and Hurricanes are the only real alternatives, and even then they have no natural rivals. Though, I've recently become unenraptured (not a word, I know) by the sport of children, though I still watch when possible and lament the failures of young athletes with my father and sister when necessary. I can still tell you why N.C. State is not a good team despite even more distance (mental and physical) than ever before as an NYC resident.
It's a part of the North Carolina tradition. Bitching about sports is universal, and this predates the enfranchisment of our Stanley Cup and one lost Super Bowl chance. To hammer the point home even more, you'll see more San Diego Chargers jerseys in Raleigh, North CArolina than you might see Panthers jerseys on certain Satuurday afternoons. I'll give you three guesses why.
It was not so odd then, that despite heavy hinting, an entire highlight reel and the audacity of the co-anchors revelling in the glory that is the Big East that the ACC Tournament topped their poll of "Which major conference tournament are you most looking forward to?" No matter how exciting the Big East is-- their cavalcade of teams, ESPN backing and massive advantage as far as talent goes this year amongst the ranks, the ACC will beat them in ratings and hold the intrigue of a region.
I'd go so far as to say the Yankees spring wins and Josh Beckett's strained back muscle might hold more weight right nw than the fate of the 'Cuse. The imaginations of the Mets fans and the fresh indignance on the faces of Yankee lovers are more prevalent than the Georgetown bashers or Providence haters. Several hours south, however, country-club members and dishwashers alike are still fuming over the Carolina-Duke game from days ago. People still lament the addition of Miami and Boston College-- even Florida State (the assholes that started the defections)-- for muddling what was a great tournment.
Nice try, ESPN. You got a ways to go before the Big East's relevance surpasses the rallying cry of the South's most prominent sports strongholds.