Commonwealth games v March Madness
The Commonwealth Games start today in Melbourne and I need to thank the mighty internet for telling me that because living in America, I would never have known. What I cannot fail to know is that on Thursday March Madness starts.
Let me compare the two. The Commonwealth Games
will be declared open by the Queen and will showcase 4,500 of the best sportsmen and women from 72 countries. March Madness
however is an American phenomenon that will be contested by a load of college kids throwing a ball through a hoop.
The 20-day March Madness is the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA)
Division 1 Basketball knockout competition featuring 65 of the countries best college teams. Unless you live here, you can't understand how popular college sport is in the US. What it really amounts to is a sleight at professional sport in this country. College kids play their hearts out, not for money, but for the love, the passion and of course the hope that one day they might become a pro. The odds of that happening are thousands to one.
The atmosphere in stadiums are the nearest you are going to get to a full blooded European football match. The crowds are huge, the excitement massive, the prize is pride and a place in the record books.
The games come thick and fast, timed around the country to start one after the other. Its frantic and the money that is bet on this event is extraordinary, $70m is estimated to be wagered on what they call the 'bracket'
The first year I was here I basically locked myself away and ignored it, last year I was coerced into paying more attention and I even had a go at the bracket (I was crap obviously, picking team names like I would horses - Oral Roberts
was my favourite) but another year on, I can feel the excitement, it is hard to ignore, although I still do have a problem with watching sport where the players are simply not in the same standard as professionals at the top of their game.
It is like comparing Welling and Charlton, but the effort and the dedication is most endearing and sadly I do see English football going the same way as fans turn more and more to lower levels of the game. It's cheaper, more accessible, fun, better spirited and simply what sport should
Okay, my tips for the Final Four: Duke
. Oh, and Jason Gardner to win the 100m.