hog_heaven, on 15 March 2013 - 10:14 AM, said:
I am not sure. It is difficult to put a finger on what it is but I think basketball as a game is falling off. Look at the average scores from the 70s-90s compared to the ones you are getting now. I remember when games would be 45-40 at the half, and the games haven't shortened. The lack of team passing, fundamentals and players staying until their Jr/Sr year has hurt the game and I think that is what has hurt the SEC the most.
Seems this subject has come up several times at about this time of the year for the past several years. I think hog heaven makes some really good points, but let me add to those. In the SEC you're talking about schools that already lack a historical interest in the sport from the fans of those schools. With Kentucky and to a lesser degree Arkansas being the exceptions of course. Even in the college basketball heydays (however/whenever you want to define that) basketball was always a distant second fiddle in the SEC.
Fast forward to today... how do you take a sport that is obviously a shell of what it used to be in terms of the overall quality in and of itself and try to generate more interest in it? Look... throw out the financial argument. That OBVIOUSLY has no bearing in it. Otherwise the SEC would be dominating and this conversation would be mute. I think the NBA has been the worst enemy of college basketball and I really don't see things getting any better.
Basketball (for whatever reason) is just a different animal than other sports. Yes it's a team game but unlike other sports, those teams with the best player or two can dominate their opponents which leads to a completely different type of selfishness among it's better players. Look how early the corruption begins these days in those young players that show promise. Kids in elementary school routinely get plucked up by greedy, self-serving AAU "coaches" and are catered to for the rest of their entire schooling. They are shuttled through the processes, sent to those select High School programs which have ties to AAU, all in an effort to get said kid to the NBA. College basketball has become nothing more than a one to two year pit-stop for those select players. I mean seriously.... unlike the other major sports, kids no longer dream about starring at Kentucky or Kansas or North Carolina... they are programmed and focused on only one thing...to play in the NBA.
To take it a step further, I think this entire process has also diminished interest in the sport at the high school levels which leads to a loss of main-stream interest. Go back 20, 30, and even 40 years ago, going to High School basketball games was a big deal in rural and middle America. Never as big as Friday night football, but certainly a big part of high school life. People who hate the NBA always talk about the "urbanization" and reference the "pop culture" mentality of the NBA game as reasons they don't connect to it. Well, where do you think this started? Your better High School athletic programs these days aren't bringing in kids and talent confined within the district borders, they are "trucking in the talent" from wherever they can find it and building superior HS programs. The local kids can't compete and the community is left with expecting to support kids they have no connection to. Either that or those select inner-city AAU supported programs at schools you would never dream of sending your kid to outside of playing basketball dominate the sport. In either scenario, you are killing interest in the sport as a whole simply based upon how it's structured. This apathy in the current college game is bred from mis-management of the sport at the younger levels.
And to get back to Hog Heaven's points, all of this leads to a game that's just lacking any sort of consistent fundamentals. Watching that Florida-Kentucky game last week was BRUTAL. The so-called experts were giving Kentucky all kinds of kudos for "gutting out" a must-win game over a good opponent. Well, I don't know what these experts were watching but it wasn't the same game I was watching. The Gators flat out choked that game away with terrible shooting and horrible decision making. It was hardly about anything Kentucky was doing well. Despite that, the Gators STILL almost won that game. I watched that abomination of a game and kept thinking that these are considered two of the top teams in the conference?? And there's really any question as to why there's such little interest in the game these days?? And I'm not picking on these two teams. Same can be said about my Vols. Their late season "surge" was FAR more about the lack of quality competition as it was about good basketball. That said, they went 1-4 against the likes of Alabama and Georgia.
This was a NCAA Tourney bubble team??? Yikes!! Kudos to the competition committee for putting much more deserving mid-major teams in the tourney over my Vols or any other SEC team by the way!
In summation I don't think there's any sort of easy or quick fix to the apathy problem in college basketball. Until the culture as a whole changes at the younger levels, I think you're going to continue to see a decline in interest in the college game. In this day and age of technology and so many more options of things to do for people to entertain themselves with, it's hard to see interest in a game that's not played very well, even at it's highest level, generate more support.