Bah, humbug.

That's my attitude toward this annual over-hyped march on madness, the NCAA Basketball Tournament.

I'm taking a solemn oath not to watch, tweet, re-tweet, text, tout, live-stream, "like" or even talk about the tournament this year, unless something catches my eye by mistake. Which is very possible given the fact the games are on half the available TV channels and you can't open a newspaper without a full-page color bracket assaulting you.

Papers don't give this much coverage to elections.

Why the personal boycott?

Well, for one thing I haven't been a fan of the game of basketball, NBA or college, since Larry Bird retired. I honestly do not see the attraction of the sport. And I don't watch ESPN SportsCenter either, probably because eight of every 10 Plays of the Day are dunks.

So this strict avoidance won't cause any shifts in my usual habits.

Secondly, the cesspool that is big-time major college basketball (and football) is hard to ignore. The money these schools rake in for bouncing a ball up and down a court is obscene. Blame TV. The networks are in the middle of a 14-year, $11 billion contract to show college hoop games. That's billion with a 'B'.

With the money they're making you'd think these schools could lower the tuition and fees for the average student. Yeah, right.

Thirdly, have you seen the graduation rates for these basketball factories? They're not Oxford.


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And for the top players at the top schools, graduation is so far off their personal radar as to be non-existent. They are there to get to the NBA, to get the big bucks, to tweet with LeBron.

Schools like Kentucky re-tool every year because of the number of players turning pro well before their final year of eligibility. Check out the seniors for any powerhouse school, if they have any they're usually beefy kids whose main objective is to "give fouls."

Fourthly, there's the incredible micro-coaching that goes on in college basketball. The end of nearly every game is a smorgasbord of free throws and timeouts. Foul, timeout, four commercials. Foul, timeout, four commercials. Doesn't matter if it's a nail-biter or a snoozer. It robs whatever momentum the game may have to offer, and it's all because coaches don't trust their players to execute any play that wasn't drawn up on a chalkboard (or IPad) 15 seconds earlier.

Finishing a game without using all of your allotted timeouts is forbidden in the college basketball coach's manual.

Fifthly, when exactly are these kids going to class and doing their school work? Not during March Madness, when they hit the road for days at a time, traveling to all corners of the country.

But then again, if they have no desire to ever actually graduate, what's a little missing homework matter?

Sixthly, can't much of the popularity of the tournament be summed up in one word? Gambling. The brackets are custom made for betting, like Super Bowl squares. Millions and millions of dollars are wagered -- legally and illegally -- every March.

I mean, really, do you think those people watching in a sports bar have any true interest in the success or failure of the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks, beyond their personal bracket selections?

And don't get me started on the NIT!

Call me a curmudgeon. A contrarian. You won't be wrong. But I just don't get the nationwide fascination with this tournament. For me, March means just one thing: The Masters edges ever closer. Cue the CBS theme music ...

Dennis Whitton's email is dwhitton@lowellsun.com. Follow him on Twitter @DAWhitton