March Madness: The American Way

The NCAA Tournament is the most American of all sports institutions.  Yes, even more than NASCAR.

MarchMadness

Here in the U.S. of A., we are often very results oriented.  The process that leads to those results often gets forgotten or lost in the shuffle, or even disregarded in some systemic way.  For example, our presidential elections are decided by an abstruse system that officially turns a blind eye to a candidate who wins the popular vote if he or she loses the electoral college.  There’s a system in place that is used to determine a winner, and if someone else believes that it would have been more “fair” to crown a different winner, the system pays no mind to such beliefs.  This idea is never more true than in our sports leagues.

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What happened to the MOP?

For many decades, the “Most Outstanding Player” trophy of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament went to a signature star, year after year, many (or even most) of whom went on to have Hall of Fame NBA careers and become all-time legends.  The more recent winners have been… let’s just say less memorable.  Why might that be?

North Carolina Tar Heels v Illinois Fighting Illini

I’m sure you’re thinking that the duration of college athlete careers is the cause.  While the greats of yesteryear commonly stuck around for all four years of college ball, the “one-and-done” freshman stars of today’s game are the rule rather than the exception (at least among top talents).  However, I’m convinced that is far from the only reason for the decline of the MOP trophy, and I’m fairly confident it’s not even the biggest reason.

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