Football should get off its Fours, no more NCAA championships in gridiron stadia


Every Monday morning, Section 215’s Akiem Bailum gives an in-depth and unfiltered look at all of the latest sports news in The Monday Morning Realist. You can follow Akiem on Twitter @AkiemBailum.

Apr 4, 2015; Indianapolis, IN, USA; General view inside the stadium during the second half of the 2015 NCAA Men

Another college basketball season is close to coming to a close. Another NCAA tournament will come to a close tonight when we all witness either the Duke Blue Devils or the Wisconsin Badgers become crowned this year’s men’s basketball national champion.

Nice upset of Kentucky, by the way, Wisconsin. Realist approved.

Riots in downtown Lexington over losing a basketball game? Realist not approved.

That’s besides the point of this week’s MMR. The 2015 Final Four is in Indianapolis at Lucas Oil Stadium, the home of the Indianapolis Colts. That is a football stadium that also plays host to other NFL events such as the annual NFL combine and, every few years, the Super Bowl.

With all of the controversy surrounding Indiana’s “Religious Freedom Act” that reportedly had a lot of discriminatory language in it against gays and lesbians, there was talk that the NCAA may take the huge step in moving the Final Four out of Indianapolis, the same city where the NCAA is headquartered.

Even the Atlanta City Council tried a last-ditch effort to get Georgia on the minds of the NCAA.

All of this said, whether the NCAA should have kept the men’s Final Four in Indy is a question that will be up for debate possibly all this year. But, there would have been another reason as to why the NCAA should have moved the men’s Final Four out of Indianapolis.

It does not belong in Lucas Oil Stadium. In fact, the Final Four does not belong in any football stadium for that matter.

Recently, I had a conversation about this with one of my best friends who is also a huge fan of college basketball. He made a very good point about one of the reasons to move the Final Four out of football stadia and into, you know, basketball stadia.

Nosebleed seats. Could one imagine how much fans would have to pay for a nosebleed seat to the Final Four but there would be no point since the players would look like tiny ants? One might as well just save themselves the money and watch on the March Madness app.

There is another reason as well that has not been touched on by the media—the same media that, after all, makes huge money of NCAA football and men’s basketball while blatantly ignoring the non-revenue sports like volleyball, softball, etc. Injury risk.

Remember that horrific injury former Louisville Cardinal (and now Georgia State Panther—yeah THAT Georgia State, this year’s Cinderella with coach Ron Hunter and the infamous chair, and his son, R.J. Hunter hitting that miraculous shot to beat Baylor) Kevin Ware sustained that had an entire stadium and country in tears and had a massive social media outpouring of support for him? That was during an Elite Eight game between Duke and Louisville in 2013.

Where did that game take place? In Indianapolis—at Lucas Oil Stadium. One cannot think but of the possibility that given the ramifications of placing a basketball court in a football/soccer stadium (and then raising said court) that the circumstances of the court had a lot to do with Ware sustaining the injury that he did.

The talk of moving future NCAA games out of huge soccer/football stadia should have began the second Ware was on the hardwood in Indy grimacing in pain and an entire country of college basketball aficionados were in tears, witnessing what appeared to be the closest thing to a basketball tragedy without someone actually dying.

But even with the health risks involved with playing games at gridiron venues, one of the biggest reasons why the NCAA needs to move the Final Four from football to basketball stadia is that it will give cities that want to host a Final Four the shot to actually host the Final Four.

New York City cannot host a Final Four because it does not have a domed football stadium, even though it is likely that the majority of college basketball players would not exactly scoff at the opportunity to play championship hoops at Madison Square Garden. Or even the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

Staples Center in Los Angeles. What about the experience basketball players would get stepping on that hardwood—the very same hardwood where in the early 2000s, Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant established a mini-dynasty in Lakers purple and gold and would have gone on to do even more great things together if only they would have got over their over-inflated egos.

The United Center in Chicago.

Chicago. Michael Jordan. Enough said.

But because of the NCAA’s lust to make money and to look good on television, it continues giving these Final Fours to football stadia that honestly do not need them.
Realists, as much as the NFL has a fetish for placing a franchise in the United Kingdom, who knows if Mark Emmert, NCAA commissioner has wet dreams about holding the Final Four at the O2 Center in London.

The above paragraph ought to have been deleted. Let’s not give the NCAA any ideas.

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