It's a March Madness Madhouse! A Madhouse[*]


Read this commentary in the Cincy Enquirer on the devious impact of the NCAA basketball tournament and then ask yourself: Is this a Thomas Pynchonesque parody or an unironic comment on the lack of news devoted to "serious" topics? Or maybe just one more disappointed University of Dayton Flyers fan?

Absorption in sports hurts our democracy. The media contribute to the problem with endless front-page stories and 16-page special sections in the Enquirer and endless bloviating broadcasts on the airwaves. This precludes adequate coverage of taxes, immigration, government spending, Iraq and the like.

Thus some can talk only of "the game" and care nothing about what is important in the world. There are so many issues that need our attention, issues that affect our lives and our future—but they get pushed aside for whatever sport is in season. Those not swept up cannot escape—short of becoming troglodytes—and can only shake our heads and worry, as Juvenal did two millennia ago, about the peril of "bread and circuses."

The author, Michael Eshelman, is a law student at Univ. of Dayton and he encapsulates perfectly a mentality that scoffs at other people's tastes without bothering to understand them (this happens all the time in cultural contexts, where critics, rather than trying to understand the popularity of a particular work simply sniff at it). "What is the attraction that enthralls so many?," he writes, without bothering to, I don't know, ask anyone. It seems to me that, when talking about sports, or art, or politics, for that matter, the onus to explain is really on the side of the person asking the questions, not the audience.

Eshelman does make one solid point: The true cost of sports in America is wrongly–and mightily–subsidized by taxpayers.

More here.

And go Ohio State. And assuming everything happens the way it should, beat Florida (this time).

[*] Obscure headline explained here.