So much mail, so little time to respond to it all. So allow me to take this shortcut.
Earlier this week, I took a playful jab at Bridgeport as an NCAA Tournament site, saying since UConn Nation (and its media) have to go there the NCAA should be fair about it and send Tennessee and/or Delaware there, too, to entertain us.
Many objected to it, saying I should be more supportive of Bridgeport because I live and work in Connecticut. I think Governor Malloy should wear socks when he goes out during the winter. But that’s his business.
I understand the hometown sentiment from the Land of Steady Habits. We need to support each other, stick up for each other. Hey, I was born in Bridgeport, lived there for five years, learned to fear clowns attending the Wing-Ding at Beardsley Park when I was a child.
I learned to love Dairy Queen there. Thank you, Bridgeport. Thank you.
But in this particular case, I have a problem.
I view the NCAA Tournament as a reward for the programs that qualify for it. And the NCAA looks at the women’s tournament as a niche event with limited geographic possibilities.
History supports the contention. Just check the attendance figures for first- and second-round, third- and fourth-round games. Uh, not so good.
So the Selection Committee tries to assign teams to regions and locales for the tournament based on projections for attendance and revenue.
So while the men get to go to Dallas, Chicago, Phoenix, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, You Name It, the women are sent to – Bridgeport. And that’s because fans will go to Bridgeport to watch UConn.
That is simply not right and not fair on a number of levels, particularly competitively for those who have to deal with the Huskies on essentially their home floor.
But it is also business appropriate and the only option the tournament has to make sure television screens are not filled with seas of empty seats.
So, I don’t dislike Bridgeport (the Merritt Canteen, yum-yum). I like it much more than Trenton, for instance.
I just dislike the reality that deems its candidacy as a staple venue crucial to the sport’s success.
I hope that explains it.