We Need a Change of Focus
After months of games, the college basketball season will come to an end tonight at Ford Field in Detroit, and the script really does seem like something out of a movie. At least that’s what CBS and ESPN are telling us.
Despite all the hyperbole and sappy package pieces, the Michigan State-North Carolina match-up does present a great story. In my mind the real story is being slighted by all this “hopes of a city” and “hopes of a state” talk that is being associated with MSU’s run. Yes, it’s great and it is a nice distraction for people who are struggling, but people won’t be devastated if they lose and won’t have it any easier if they win.
It sounds fantastic, it sounds like a phenomenal story, but it just isn’t the case. Michigan State basketball is simply the most recent in a long line of inspirational stories of success in sports for teams in the state. They aren’t saviors, they aren’t “just what the state needed,” in fact about half the people in the state either doesn’t care if they win or hopes they lose.
So what’s the big deal with the media blowing this angle of the story out of proportion? I feel like it only makes up part of what the story should be today and pushes one particularly important angle right out of the spotlight: respect. Why are we not talking about how badly the Big Ten and Michigan State were disrespected all year? While the Big East had a great tournament, our horse knocked out two of their 1-seeds. A couple weeks after Vitale was incredulous when talk of a 1-seed for the Spartans came up, they’ve knocked out two of the top dogs in convincing fashion.
Speaking of fashion, teams from the Big Ten are supposed to win ugly. All I heard before the UConn game was how MSU needed to play it at their pace. I’m certain they didn’t mean the pace where they score 80 points, but that’s actually how Izzo prefers it. And speaking of Tom Izzo, can we finally acknowledge that he is a top five coach in college basketball? Five times in the last 11 years the guy has taken his team to the Final Four, his teams are rarely outworked and never under-prepared, and he hasn’t had a hint of scandal, something very few coaches can say these days.
I know it’s an easy story to get caught up in, and an easy story to generate interest for the media, but can we agree that there is much more to the story and that maybe things are getting a little carried away? At least take a moment to consider all the Big Ten hate from earlier in the year. Maybe Michigan State isn’t the savior for Detroit, but they certainly were for the Big Ten this year.