In college basketball, the greatest achievement for any team or player is to play in March. March madness, which is one of the biggest sporting events of the year, is the playoffs of college basketball and until a couple years ago housed only two tournaments. These tournaments are the NCAA Tournament and the NIT. But in the last couple of years, a new tournament has entered the fray. This new tournament, known as the College Basketball Invitational, has set about collecting the teams that have not acquired invitations from the other two tournaments. Though this helps more teams play in March, this new tournament takes its primary appearance as a consolation prize for schools that do not have the performance to play in the big dance. This poses a question. Since this new tournament only acts as a consolation prize for players and teams, for the sake of the players and teams involved, dose college basketball need the College Basketball Invitational?
This new tournament has a bracket of 16 teams that did not make the NIT or the main tournament. Though their plan is to compete with the NIT for teams that didn’t make the tournament, from how it has started as, it seems like they will be inviting very poor teams that barely even boasted a .500 winning percentage during the season. From what it looks like, getting an invite to this new tournament is just like getting a participation prize.
Participation prizes are not always a bad thing. When I was a cub scout, I acquired participation prizes for participating in two pine wood derby contest. For an 8 year old, this is a consoling way of saying nice try. The only problem with doing this in college with the College Basketball Invitational is that the players are not 8 year olds but 18 to 20 year olds.
It is fine for youngsters to get a little consolation, but when this is done to people in their teens and twenties it begins to be a problem. The problem is that if they constantly play for small participation like prizes, like the College Basketball Invitational, they will never experience failure. Now failure is not sweet and no one wants to experience it, but it is better for someone to fail at an earlier age rather than later. The reasoning behind this is that failing is a learning experience that teaches valuable lessons such as strong character and perseverance. If one fails at something at an early age, when he is still learning, it does not cost him much and he learns from his mistakes. When it comes to college athletes, if they do not learn to fail, they will have a hard time later in life.
If they fail to make the pros and have to get a real job, they will have it especially hard. That means when they go out into the work place, if they do not impress any potential employers, there is no consolation prize. What happens next? Well they have just learned the bitter taste of failure for the first time and unless their families take them back in they have no where to go. This is when the worst happens. They are unemployed, discouraged, and don’t know how to recover from failure. They might start drugs, become criminals, or suffer from severe depression. This is a terrible plight for any young person and the outcomes are usually not pleasant.
Therefore, the idea of a tournament like the College Basketball Invitational that consoles teams with poor performance might not seem that bad since it is only basketball, but the effects it will have on the young men who play basketball in such a tournament will be disastrous.
nbcsports.msnbc.com 16-team, single-elimination event will be separate from NCAAs and NIT
espn.go.com 16-team, single-elimination event will be separate from NCAAs and NIT