I GOT OFF the road to the Final Four a few years ago - frankly, just too much traffic. So while much of Sports Nation has slowed down, sat back and enjoyed Louisville, Michigan, Syracuse and Wichita State over the weekend, I simply took a walk toward Walden Pond, leaving my remote on the coffee table next to two half-crushed cans of PBR.
It's not as if I ever had a love affair with college basketball - the hypocrisy, the lionization of coaches, the folly of the NCAA, the student-athlete sham, the one-and-done transformation all are overwhelming deterrents to making an emotional commitment - but who doesn't enjoy spending all of March rooting against Duke?
Finally, I could take it no more, and I can identify three root causes:
I don't know if I have any more to say about college basketball announcers than I've already said the past 20 years. So I'll be succinct: They stink.
(I exempt the incomparable Marv Albert, the lovable Verne Lundquist and the surprisingly sensible Steve Kerr from this assessment. And two of them are NBA guys.)
In the terrific Butler-Marquette tournament game, Roosevelt Jones went to the foul line with 15 seconds left and Butler trailing by three. This induced analyst Jim Spanarkel to soliloquize on how good Jones' ball rotation is, and after Jones made the first free throw, Spanarkel explained how the backspin on the ball allowed it to crawl over the front of the rim.
At this point, I asked my wife Toni to hold my head in the toilet for 45 seconds, and she obliged.
Meanwhile, centuries from now future civilizations will look back at the American empire and condemn us for myriad crimes against nature:
Our dependence on gas-guzzling automobiles, our nicotine habit, our gun violence, our racist and homophobic tendencies, our war mongering, our neglect of the environment. But none of these societal ills compare to our near-apocalyptic adoption and acceptance of the block/charge call.
Nothing has changed any game more, nothing has ruined any game more. If we allow it to go unchecked, my children's children's children will prefer to watch bocce to basketball.
It is a perversion of defense - instead of guarding your opponent, you try to beat him to a spot on the floor.
(Best I can tell, this has been the Republicans' strategy against President Obama for four years.)