From one spring excess to another/Paul Peterson

In case you don’t believe the world has veered entirely out of control, consider this morsel:

The subject that received the most hits on the Internet this past Sunday night was the annoucement of the brackets for the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament.

Never mind that North Korea’s leaders were making ominous threats about nuclear war.

Or that the United States just passed the $2 trillion mark on money wasted on the war in Iraq.

That another homegrown terrorist plot in this country had been stopped.

No, all the fuss was about a basketball tournament that has had zealots like Joe Lunardi of ESPN talking endlessly about “bubble” teams and bracketology – a word that should mercifully be removed from the English language.

Now, I’m still a big fan of NCAA basketball, a sport that has managed, for the most part, to stay away from the chest-thumping, hot-dogging antics practiced endlessly in the NBA nowadays.

But was I really all that interested in hearing reports every half hour about which bubble teams were in and which teams were out? A resounding no.

Everyone knows that bracketology was invented so that countless office pools all over the country could have something to chew on.

It’s been estimated that businesses will lose countless manpower hours on Thursday and Friday when the tourney gets going.

Everyone in a basketball pool will be close to a television set, cellphone or whatever device to see if LIU-Brooklyn or Florida Gulf Coast can knock off one of the higher seeds.

Back in the day when I was fulltime on the sports desk, I used to take a few days off at this time of the year just to watch the NCAA Tournament. It seemed like a nice way (even if my wife thought I was crazy) to clear my mind after a busy winter sports season.

And about the time that March Madness gets over, we’ll be subjected to yet another excess of wasted time with the National Football League draft.

Nerds like Mel Kiper and others have made the NFL draft a cottage industry that literally begins as soon as the final pick the year before is made.

There will be NFL tryouts at just about every university (even Hampton College and Whittier College had ones this year) to test the prospects.

The players will be subjected to just about every test conceivable, even asking this year about their so-called ‘orientation.’

What does it all mean? Absolutely nothing.

The haves of the league (New England, San Francisco, Denver and a few others) will continue to make the best selections because they simply know what they’re doing.

And the have-nots, like Detroit, Jacksonville, Cleveland, etc. will continue to pick poorly.

I think the Lions, whose draft record is abysmal, have a criteria that demands that a prospect either have a criminal record or a very shaky health status.

At any rate, if you combined all the hours spent on NCAA bracketolgy and the NFL draft you could solve most of the world’s pressing problems.