For an organization that purports to be all about the “student-athletes,” the NCAA sure operates as if it’s all about the money. The current men’s basketball tournament has made it very clear what the NCAA values most: dollar bills. The long timeout breaks for commercials completely ruin the flow of the basketball games for the athletes and fans. Basketball is supposed to be more like soccer (continuous action with multiple momentum changes) vs. football (short bursts of action followed by long stretches of standing around). During the NCAA tournament, especially the last five to seven minutes of a game, it’s hard to imagine how these finely-tuned athletes can even work up a sweat.

In college basketball, each team gets five official timeouts. Of course, those timeouts are used for television and radio commercials. Then, on top of that, there are the annoying “media” timeouts.

“Most games have absolutely no flow to them because there are 10 artificial stoppages: the eight media timeouts and two team-called 30-second timeouts per half (one for each team) that become full timeouts,” wrote John Feinstein in a recent Washington Post column.

Teams are given an allotment of 30-second and 60-second timeouts. But the actual time elapsed is much longer than what the rules call for, often three to four times what’s supposed to be allowed. The NCAA has also allowed television executives to make halftime breaks 20 minutes for tournament games instead of the usual 15 minutes in college basketball.

“The basketball committee sold its soul — at an increasingly hefty price — to television years ago,” opined Feinstein.

The sad part is that since the NCAA doesn’t have any scruples when it comes to their profit-at-all-costs (PAAC) mentality, in 10 years we might be watching one-minute bursts of basketball in-between interminable advertising.

At some point, true hoops fans might just say enough is enough and go watch their local high school basketball team play. That time is trending closer and closer.

Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans


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