By Briana Brady—Asst. Features Editor

As March Madness ramps up, and everyone has made their bracket and checked it twice, I feel as though I am constantly surrounded by everything basketball–at least for a couple of weeks. But don’t we all at this time of year? Even as I write this at a local place in town, the TV on the wall is airing ESPN’s 24/7 coverage of all the games and subsequent analyses of them.

I am personally and thoroughly uninterested in the sport of basketball, but I appreciate it for its accessibility, its ability to transcend socioeconomic divide, and its capacity to accommodate persons who have differing levels of physical capacity or disabilities. That being said, however, the mass commercialization of basketball, and really all professional sports nowadays, somewhat nauseates me. When games air on TV, it seems that everything on the screen is sponsored by someone in some way⎯all the way to the players’ jerseys. Each pause in play offers an opportunity for an on-air or in-stadium advertisement. It seems like every aspect of the game is oriented towards wealthy organizations becoming even wealthier.

Besides that, though, and going back to March Madness, the time that people invest in following their brackets has been shown to decrease productivity in the workplace. Now, I do believe Americans are overworked anyway, but still! Further, I heard the other day that Warren Buffet is willing to give anyone that works in his company able to compile a perfect Sweet Sixteen bracket $1 million each year for life. Imagine if Buffet were willing to give that money to someone who had a plan for healthcare reform, too? Social Security reform? Think of the places our country could go if millionaires and billionaires offered to give sponsor these kinds of ideas.

Now, I am by no means saying that sports are not important, valuable, or do not add richness and depth to our society⎯they do. They also provide an escape from the constant turmoil facing this country every day. But I do believe that the over-commercialization and glorification of sports is harmful to the essence of the game; moreover, if the money put into events like the Super Bowl, March Madness, the Playoffs, and the World Series could be equally poured into society more wholly as well, perhaps the country could address issues facing it with more urgency and seriousness. The ball is in your court now, though, companies, millionaires, and billionaires.

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