Location: Indianapolis, Indiana, United States

I'm just trying to develop an online body of work (even if the work is throwaway nonsense) to advance my writing career.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Double Vowels In Action

The trouble with the NCAA basketball tournament is the rules are stupid, the commentary insufferable, the school administrations corrupt, and the athletes simultaneously worthy of sympathy and scorn. And every one of these deficiencies is trumped by the quality of the games, the enthusiasm and intensity of March Madness. I still like this accursed tournament!

The NCAA still insists on implementing game rules as though players ages' range from 8 to 12 and not 18 to 22. The three point line is less than 20 feet from the basket, a distance from which most self-respecting street ballers and suburban driveway shooters can hit about forty percent of the time. Instead of actually having a jump ball to address tie ups, college basketball offers the monumentally dull possession arrow. It's two, not just one, free throw for the other team when you get a technical foul, you naughty boy, and if you get too many fouls in a half, the opposition even gets to shoot free throws on an offensive foul! What on Earth is that about? College still enforces the outmoded intentional foul, rather than letting teams commit deliberate fouls when strategy dictates, provided there's no excessive contact or a case of one player trying to hurt another.

Broadcasters in all sports have many flaws: limited command of language, bombast, rambling, just to name a few. But what sets commentators of the college game apart from their counterparts who work the professional side is the absolutely infuriating coach worship.

Bootlicking Broadcaster:"You can't say enough about the job Billy Donovan has done with this team..."

Actually, you can! And you have! If you've reached the college ranks in coaching, you're good at it, no doubt about that. But spare me with all this fawning sycophancy!

The universities in the tournament and the athletes themselves do enough laudable and lamentable things to fill an entire library, so I won't bother breaching a subject that has already been covered time and time again by people who are better at it. Suffice it to say, however, that amidst the boosters, the ludicrous sums of money changing hands, the players who bypass the rules and get by with it, the players who live by the rules and are never rewarded, the self-serving school administrators, and the selfless ones, there's plenty of information out there to make impressions on both the cynical and the naive.

And did I mention the games were great? The NCAA won't fix what's broken here because they don't have to, and they know it.

In other news, the pastoral tribal group of East Africa known as the Maasai are reportedly leaving their traditional homes in Northern Tanzania for cities, and not necessarily because they wish to. It seems some rather questionable land agreements have been forged by unscrupulous property buyers, forcing many Maasai from their ancestral land. One sad consequence is the presence of Maasai warriors standing guard outside brothels in some of Tanzania's urban areas. And how are the warriors compensated? You guessed it, free--and unprotected--sex.

The good news is President Jakaya Kikwete has acknowleged the problem and wants the trend reversed. It would be one thing if individuals within the Maasai made independent, if unwise, decisions to abandon herding and set off for Dar Es Salaam to become cathouse bouncers, but that's not what's happening. By all appearances, these people are being negotiated out of their own property. Social engineering may not be a good idea for governments in most cases, but in this instance it makes more sense to intercede and set things right before the social problems created by the Maasai exodus spiral out of control. The AIDS virus is already a scourge in Africa; no need to exacerbate it.

These two seemingly disparate stories do have one common trait: the presence of double As. Insert your battery joke here.


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