NCAA should dump Friday and start the college basketball season on a Tuesday
Letting teams open on a Friday in football season has never made sense
They call it a "Friday news dump" for a reason.
The television show "The West Wing" referenced it once.
Here's how that conversation went between characters Josh Lyman (played by Bradley Whitford) and Donna Moss (played by Janel Moloney):
Donna: What's take-out-the-trash day?
Donna: I mean, what is it?
Josh: Any stories we have to give the press that we're not wild about, we give all in a lump on Friday.
Donna: Why do you do it in a lump?
Josh: Instead of one at a time?
Donna: I'd think you'd want to spread them out.
Josh: They've got X column inches to fill, right? They're going to fill them no matter what.
Josh: So if we give them one story, that story's X column inches.
Donna: And if we give them five stories …
Josh: They're a fifth the size.
Donna: Why do you do it on Friday?
Josh: Because no one reads the paper on Saturday.
The wording there is dated, I admit. But the gist remains true. And it applies to sports, too. People don't digest news as much on Saturdays as they do on weekdays. Most aren't at work messing around on computers. Those debate shows that dominate sports networks air Monday through Friday but not on Saturdays. Local sports talk radio mostly doesn't exist on weekends. And if anybody is discussing a sport on a weekend in November, it's football. All of which has made it nonsensical for college basketball to start its season on a Friday during football season.
So the following news from the NCAA is good news:
"To decompress the schedule and generate more excitement with the beginning of the basketball regular season, the Division I Men's Basketball Oversight Committee discussed a new start date for the sport. The conversation ... centered on making the Tuesday before the second Friday in November as the season's uniform start date."
In short, this is wise.
Starting the season on a Tuesday is so much better than starting the season on a Friday for the reasons stated above and more. To prove that point, let's focus on theplayed on last season's opening night -- Friday, Nov. 11. Do you remember that game? It was amazing. The eventual National Player of the Year (Frank Mason) scored 30 points but the Hoosiers still won 103-99 in overtime. But it happened late on a Friday. So most people -- even most college basketball fans -- didn't see it. And by the time everybody woke up Saturday, the sports story of the day was a football game between Washington and USC.
Indiana-Kansas was a great way to start the season, but it didn't register at all.
It happened late on a night most people aren't preconditioned to watch sports and was overshadowed by football the following day. And when the traditional news cycle restarted the following Monday, it was old news.
Why would college basketball voluntarily do that to itself?
It's never made any sense.
Which is why it'll be a good thing for the sport if the committee's discussion leads to actual change. If college basketball's season started on a Tuesday, it would be three days removed from a college football Saturday, two days from Sunday's NFL schedule and two days in front of Thursday Night Football. In other words, the day would belong to Roy Williams and Mike Krzyzewski and Bill Self and Rick Pitino and anybody else who scheduled an interesting opener. And the next morning would, too.
What amounts to Opening Day for college basketball would be all over sports talk radio. It would be on television's debate shows. It would get the attention it sure could use in an attempt to create interesting storylines early.
Would this solve all of the sport's issues?
Of course not.
But it would definitely solve one.
And that's a move in the right direction.
Bottom line, for years, college basketball has started its season with a Friday news dump for no good reason. The fact that the members of this committee are considering a change suggests they recognize it as a problem. Now please fix it.
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