ACC Man's To Be Or Not To Be
in attendance live at an NCAA Tournament site, that is the question [to paraphrase a much more well known author]. Every year at this time ACC Man pulls out his brackets and maps and looks at which tournament sites may provide enticing match-ups and nice places to visit ... while within reasonable traveling distance (i.e. a one day's drive). And every year at this time I forget what an utterly distasteful experience that CBS and the host arena can make this. I've heard that attendance to-date for tourney games have been well down and for many of the reasons I'll site below I can perfectly understand this and I'm happy to see the sporting public drawing a line as far as just how much they're willing to put up with. As a case in point I attended the sub-regionals in Greensboro this past week and wish I hadn't for the following reasons:
Parking: That's right, before even entering the arena my disgust was beginning. There were no (I mean zero) signs and/or people directing you where/how to enter the arena's parking lots (bad enough for me who's familiar with the Coliseum, but those poor folks coming from around the country - ouch!). After following the crowd and jockeying for position in unmanned lanes, 20 minutes later I arrived at parking lot entrance. After paying an inflated $7 to park I questioned and was informed that my parking fee covered the 'afternoon session' only and that if I left the lot between sessions (wouldn't everybody) that I would have to pay another $7 for the evening session. The lot was a total mess with one individual pointing you 'a general direction' once inside the gate ... and not surprisingly there was no one to help traffic exit the lot at the close of the first session. Fortunately, I got smart and parked [for free] on neighborhood side streets adjacent to Coliseum for evening and Saturday sessions.
Dining: Between games of the opening session I decided to partake in one of the numerous cuisine options within the Coliseum. A quick check of the clock showed 10 minutes till start of next game so I got in a line of approximately 20 people for Wendy's. While not expecting their 99 cent menu, I was dismayed to see my only 2 choices were a double cheeseburger or chicken sandwich ($4.50 each!). With the line stagnating for about 5 minutes I noticed there was only one person manning the register and taking orders! I soon heard the cheers of the crowd and knew I was a long way from seeing game action, but I guess it was too late to change decision. In what seemed like an eternity I finally got to add some $3 dried out fries and a $3 drink to my burger and return to my seat ... there were just under 8 minutes remaining in the half. Between games on Saturday, decided to give food procurement another shot ... this time going to a small stand offering [only] hotdogs, pretzels, and bottled soda which was manned by two guys. After another aggravating line wait I finally got to the front to order my 2 hotdogs and a soda. At just that moment one of the guys had to leave to refill a water bottle he was using to spritz pretzels before salting. This didn't phase me until after I ordered and the remaining guy said I'd have to wait till the other guy returned to get my hotdogs ... after getting quite disturbed and boisterous (and with an angry mob behind me) the lone guy decided maybe he was capable of placing a hotdog on a bun. Just as he grabbed the first dog the other guy returned and proceeded to chew him out for touching 'the dogs' - you gotta be kiddin me! Anyway, $8.50 later (2 $3 dogs and a $2.50 soda) I returned to my seat .. only missing 5 minutes of game action this time.
Tourney Coverage: The Coliseum is well equipped with several large TV screens to enhance your enjoyment of the game. Seemed like a great opportunity to show action from other sites as well as replays of game I'm viewing ... however, and I blame CBS for this, not only will they not show replays (something about not wanting to incite the crowd I think), but they 'shut off' these TVs during timeouts, halftimes, and even between games! I believe every fan attending these games has avid interest in all other tournament action and should be entitled to at least the same TV coverage they'd receive in the comfort of their own living rooms.
Entertainment: With all the fanfare and hoopla surrounding the tourney, why oh why can't the sites find some ... any type of entertainment to present between games? During the season I've seen gymnastic exhibitions, unicycle riders, baby races, fan shootouts for prizes, celebrity games ... so what the heck is the problem here? If you're going to shut down the TVs between games, at least provide some indication you've thought about the fans!
Oh well, I could go on, but reliving this experience and recalling similar ones from years gone by is starting to get me ill. So ... while my heart and basketball spirit says head for Atlanta or Philly this weekend, I think I'll just stay propped in my easy chair with complete TV coverage and a lineless refrigerator for between games. Oh, by the by, the host for the games at Greensboro was none other than the Atlantic Coast Conference!
- ACC Man