March Madness… A term most in the general public would be familiar with. Perhaps the biggest month of the year for college basketball! A time when sports fans rally around, fill out tournament brackets, pick the ever surprising underdogs, and bet big money on daily games.
But has the March Madness tournament got too big for it’s own good? Has it become so big to where it’s not necessarily about the teams playing but rather the money generated? I’d sure like to think so. It’s understandable corporations would like their names imprinted on every banner throughout stadiums inside and out. However, the corporate money has pushed the tournament and more specifically the final four to a point where it’s just about the money. Every year since the early 90’s, the NCAA final four seems to be played in an NFL enclosed stadium that seats 80,000 people on NFL Sundays. But for the final four, they’ll seat 35,000-40,000 people and 3/4 of those people in the stands are so far away that they can barely identify which players are running around on the court.
Secondly and most important, past NCAA players have mentioned that playing in an NFL stadium compared to a college basketball or NBA basketball arena is a night and day difference. Shooters are at a disadvantage in the NFL stadiums. “It’s just different. You have to adjust your eyes, and that’s what we try to do in practice. We try to get up a lot of shots and adapt to it so come game time, it feels normal.” Tyus Jones of Duke Mentioned at the 2015 Final Four tournament. “Anytime you play in a dome, there’s a lot of open space,” he said. “Then here, there’s no stands behind the baskets. That’s what the biggest difference is. It’s just a black curtain.”
So if teams are at a disadvantage each year, and are struggling to see the hoop, why are they still playing in domes every year? Revenue….
For businesses, the NCAA offers a combination of commercial time and marketing opportunities such as the use of its logo for sponsorships called corporate partners. A corporate sponsorship sells for about $10 million, and for “champions,” corporate partner sells for $30 to $35 million, according to Jim Andrew, a senior vice president at IEG, a corporate sponsorship consulting firm. Not only do these companies get access to tickets for championship matches but in some cases are given exclusivity, meaning their competitors will be shut out of the tournament. “For the NCAA, the March Madness is its most profitable business, earning roughly $900 million in revenue, most of which comes from the broadcast rights paid by CBS (CBS), parent of CBSNews.com, and Time Warner (TWX). The media companies signed a 14-year, $10.8 billon deal in 2006″, Johnathan Berr CBS MoneyWatch.
Ultimately, money talks. That’s known in every aspect of business. But has money become so important to the NCAA that they’ve neglected the best interest of the players on the court each year? The bigger the stadium the more advertising and the more people. The more people they can fit in a stadium, the more money generated. That’s how the NCAA thinks and that’s how they’re continue to operate until further notice.