|Ivy smack at its best. Plus, there's that guy in the glasses, probably named Grayson. And, whoa, hey, Jeremy Schaap. (AP)|
One of the cute, necessary things about Ivy League basketball: it plays league games on back-to-back nights, Fridays and Saturdays, to accommodate the conference's culture, the only conference to intra play in such a way. That's because it's a grades-first mentality with the Ivies, and they mean it, so there are no mid-week games once the teams get into the thick of January and February.
Because of this, bus-league play (that's no joke, look at the map; everywhere, even the brutal Cornell-to-Dartmouth commute, is done on wheels) has long been something within the Ivy that's been romanticized over, created rhythms and quirks to the league season that other conferences simply don't have.
Unfortunately, the league's laughable mindset -- and this has more to do with people removed from directly working with basketball and football -- has been to not put the Ivy's sports teams on too high of a pedestal.
We wouldn't want to go showing off just how good we are out there on the court or field of play, oh no. That might indicate an evolutionary dip in our performance and dedication to The Studies. Athletic play is to be encouraged, but not trumpeted.
I'm playing that sentiment up to a degree, but plenty within the Ivy are nodding their heads right now. That mindset, which borders on passive-aggressive hesitation to embrace mainstream athletic achievement, is also why a lot of coaches get out of the league for other jobs, sometimes with nary a difference in pay, as soon as they can.
Recently, the Ivy's taken hit after hit for not having a TV deal in place. Cornell reached the Sweet 16 a few years ago, and Harvard basketball has reached a level of prominence and recognition that's unprecedented in its history. Unfortunately, all league games have been almost impossible to watch unless you bought a ticket and hauled yourself to The Palestra or Jadwin or Payne-Whitney or Lavietes or any of the other four Ivy barns.
But -- finally the good news! -- that's no longer the case. Hooray to the Ivy for taking advantage of a TV opportunity that existed. The league announced Monday it would partner with the NBC Sports Network for the next two years. It's not a long-term deal, but it's a start, and that time frame makes sense for both signers of the contract.
"Beginning with the upcoming 2012 football season and continuing through the 2014 lacrosse season, the NBC Sports Network will televise a minimum of six, but no more than 10, football games, six-to-10 men's basketball games, and up to four men's lacrosse games annually," the release said. "Even more Ivy League games may be seen on a national basis within this agreement as the NBC Sports Network has acquired the rights to sublicense additional football and men's basketball games to a national sports network."
Notice the 'but no more than' clause; see what I was talking about above? Regardless, it's a start. And the Ivy should be good in the years ahead. Harvard's not going anywhere, as it's on the cusp of actually building what could be a dynasty in that league. Fortunately, Penn, Yale and Princeton are right there, too, meaning we could be coming into a nice age of Ivy hoops.
Thankfully, some at the top see this as a good thing and made sure America will have a chance to see it. At least for the next two years.
(H/T, Soft Pretzel Logic)