As the always-loved March Madness came to an end, I sat in awe as the Villanova Wildcats hit yet another buzzer beater to cut down the nets. That's when I thought to myself, what would I be if I didn't watch college sports? There are some major reasons that make college sports so much more appealing than professional sports to a viewer like me.
I remember making my first college list at 8 years old. Yes, you read that right: I was 8 years old. How did I come up with it? I listed every single college (in a special order) I could think of because my eyes were glued to the TV every Saturday -- College Gameday -- from 9 a.m. until I would fall asleep on the couch trying to stay awake for the West Coast games.
I fell in love with the pride. I fell in love with the heart of the players. I fell in love with the speed, the tenacity, and the no-quit mentality. But most importantly, I fell in love with the craziness. You don't see professional sports fans on their feet all game screaming at the top of their lungs.
This new age in professional sports has me question if the generations of today should idolize professional sport stars. Yes, there are the hustlers like Mike Trout, but where has the right aggressiveness gone in professional sports? I always learned to idolize men like Pete Rose because he played balls to the wall, all the time, every game. Professional sport has strayed far away from the basic concept of what it actually is: a game. Is there a true basic difference between Monopoly and football? Operation and basketball? Chutes and Ladders and baseball? No. They are all games played by many, for the fun that they can bring. It's become way too much about money and the glamour and not about the grit and the blessing of playing a game for a living.
That's where college athletes stand alone. They aren't owed anything. They're not getting paid $20 million a year. I recall from last year when I went to watch UNC baseball play Liberty University in a night game. UNC's second baseman hit a lead-off triple in the top of the third inning. In the bottom of the third, he had an error on a routine ground ball. He was immediately benched.
Now, what did I take away from that? Every single day in college sports is a dog fight. One little slip-up and you're gone from the starting lineup. But it also shows that it's any man any day. You see, Lebron James is always with the ball under 15 seconds throwing up a heavily contested shot at the buzzer while he has teammates wide open. We saw in this year's March Madness that sometimes it only takes a bench player one shot to turn from a nobody to a household name. They hit the open man. Teammates lean on each other.
So I will continue to have my Watch ESPN app up on my iPad, my TV on ESPNU, and my most visited website as NCAA.com.