You would think differently if you went to a college that went to back to back national championship games during your freshman and sophomore years (Razorbacks, baby!). I love the Hive, but the constant noise level at Bud Walton Arena during those heydays can't be matched. Also, going to the 1994 Final Four and watching the Hogs win it all (student section, right under the goal) was one of the top 5 trips of my life, and I've had some pretty awesome trips. I think a better depiction of your Honeycrisp analogy would be Honeycrisp apples (genetically modified, pinnacle of food science) vs. fresh, local apples from nearby orchard (college basketball). You can appreciate the magnificent creation that is the Honeycrisp apple, but a lot of times, you'd prefer a fresh apple from farmer McGregor's orchard.
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Apples to Basketball
If the NBA isn’t going on, I don’t care much for watching basketball. ESPN ran another poll asking people if they would be watching more college basketball in the event of a prolonged NBA lockout, and for nearly two-thirds (63%) of respondents the answer was some form of a yes. For me though, the answer is a resounding, “hell no”.
It’s not that I don’t appreciate March Madness, which annually winds up creating some of the most epic battles in all of sports, and is possibly the single best non-soccer tournament in the world. I watch that either way, normally at a bar with friends who care a lot more than I do about the actual winners. For me, March Madness is all about close games and emotion. It’s not that I don’t think there are some talented players who will do some fairly remarkable things. It’s not even that I don’t have a team that I particularly care for (I don’t). What really bothers me is just the relative low level of play.
As someone who was brought up watching professional sports, I just can’t get into lower levels of competition. Be it baseball, football, basketball, or even stuff like soccer, I just don’t care if it’s not the top level. In my mind, most of the time I might as well just be watching high school ball or even younger kids. They try hard, too, and the games are often just as intense at the end.
The way I see it, choosing which level of basketball I want to watch has always been like going to the grocery store to pick out apples. For a big chunk of the year I can choose Honeycrisps, by far my favorite apple. When they are in season, I pretty much never choose another apple because Honeycrisps are just that much better than their competition, much like the NBA.
My second favorite apple, the Macintosh (read-NCAA), is pretty good, sure, but it’s just not as good as the Honeycrisp. So I rarely buy it, even when the Honeycrisp is unavailable. There’s nothing really wrong with it, but it’s just not on par with what I expect. Some could say the Honeycrisp has spoiled me with it’s crispiness and amazing taste, just like the NBA has spoiled me with with it’s elite players, top level of refereeing (reffing NBA basketball is ridiculously hard), and pregame and in-game entertainment. To top it off, the Honeycrisp is generally a huge apple, much bigger than it’s competition (just like the NBA), so I really am satisfied in the end. I don’t need another apple. I don’t want another apple.
Still, once in a while I try an apple which I traditionally haven’t liked as much (normally a green apple). I’ll do this because I’m craving an apple and there is no preferable alternative available. Perhaps because I just want to reassure myself that the Honeycrisp is actually still the best. In basketball terms, this is the Olympics and World Championships. I generally don’t buy an entire bag, and even though they tend to be pretty good, they just aren’t what I crave in an apple. Same thing goes with the Olympics. I know I’m getting top level players, but it’s less than exciting since I know what’s going to happen–we’re going to win. Sort of like the green apple. Yes, it’s going to satisfy my hunger for an apple, but if there was an alternative I wouldn’t have stomached it.
The NBA and it’s thunderous dunks, long-bomb threes, defense, the amazing ability of most players to actually make free throws (I know, shocking), and especially the size and speed of it all have really left overwhelmed. The second or third levels aren’t even close to what I know is out there, and as a result I just don’t care too much for it.
P.S. I know someone is going to give me crap about how there isn’t that much defense in the NBA, but look at college. Seriously, watch a game and try to tell me that relative to NCAA, the NBA players don’t play defense. College players may arguably try harder to some degree, but their relative level of skill makes their effort meaningless to me as a spectator.
P.P.S. If you haven’t eaten a Honeycrisp apple, I suggest you do so immediately.