Tyrades! By Danny Tyree

I know the Bleacher Report website calls March Madness "four 15-minute quarters of stop 'n' go action or 67 games of heart-wrenching, plot-twisting, good ol' fashioned euphoria." I've seen the cartoons of office productivity grinding to a standstill as co-workers scrutinize brackets and make wagers on the games that lead to the naming of a National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Men's Division I Basketball Champion.

But the "assists" I hear about from co-workers involve heavy lifting, the "seeds" that my customers care about are for the garden and the "rebounds" my Facebook friends discuss usually involve ill-advised dating decisions. Honestly, outside of the media hysteria, I really don't hear that much about the supposedly ubiquitous annual hoops phenomenon.

I know the NCAA has reached a 14-year, $11 billion deal with CBS Sports and Turner Sports for tournament coverage, and I know that streaming downloads of the games are extremely popular; but I still feel the NCAA needs to ensure the future of March Madness by subtly broadening its appeal.

Laid-back outdoorsmen need something to make them feel comfortable with fast-paced action in crowded gyms. I know: NBA scouts could be shown tranquilizing and tagging the players they like. An air ball could be renamed a "didn't even nearly git 'r done." And the definition of "double dribble" could be changed to mean that a player is using both Skoal and Red Man tobaccos simultaneously.

Are enough geeks interested in the Sweet Sixteen? Reach out to them by offering both man-to-man defense and "Twilight Zone" defense. ("Stewardess, I'm not imagining this! There's a gremlin on the backboard!")

Many find the idea of a merely "national" championship provincial, jingoistic and even xenophobic. The NCAA could tear down borders by announcing, "If anyone gives birth inside the three-point line, we guarantee the baby a slot in the 2031 Elite Eight."

NASCAR enthusiasts would pay more attention to March Madness if the balls were plastered with Tide and Valvoline decals. ("Forget layups and jump shots! We want them to run laps!")

TV coverage of the tournament always preempts some of the CBS crime procedurals. Something needs to be done to court disgruntled fans. Maybe when the winners take apart the net, they could also take apart the referee.

Let's get more talk radio fans fired up about the championship. Give us comments like "There's no such thing as a FREE THROW. The players need to pull themselves up by their own Nike straps" and "Duke has a lot invested in the sophomore players, but they would do better to invest in gold bullion."

Some short people are turned off of by the accolades heaped on beanpole basketball players. Perhaps a few well-chosen words could level the playing field. ("Jefferson is on track to win the Associated Press Most Outstanding Player award and sign with the Lakers - but on a humorous note, if he contracts osteoporosis, he will likely lose three or four inches of his stature.")

If the NCAA really wants to go for the niche audience, they should have the color commentators pander to the folks at the controversial Westboro Baptist Church. ("Lawson may be missing so many shots because his grandmother died yesterday or because he partied with Charlie Sheen last night - but more likely, it's because of gays in the military!")


©2011 Danny Tyree. Danny welcomes reader e-mail responses at [email protected]. Danny's' weekly column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc. newspaper syndicate. For info on using columns please email Cari Dawson Bartley at [email protected] or call 800 696 7561.