I’m going to do something different this year.

I’m not going to watch a single NCAA March Madness game, fill out a bracket. I may check the scores. This will be a first in 25 years that I will not be an active participant in March Madness. Coincidentally, I won my first bracket pool 25 years ago of about $75 and had a mix bag of success since that time.

Why no March Madness?

Well, I’ve operated with the contention of the past few years that the NCAA has operated with the same sense as someone who has indentured servants.

How else would you characterize a system that dumps millions upon millions dollars into a non-profit company and forcibly restrict the earning ability of the college athlete?

I’ve allowed myself to look past that sort of transgression simply because I want to believe that college athletics at that level is still about the amateurism.

But after the spectacle of Bruce Pearl arrival in Auburn this week, that illusion took a bit more of a hit.

What I read and saw from the articles and videos, it had little to do with the athlete (much less the student-athlete), but rather about making Auburn viable again (translated as Auburn wants a bigger cut of the money pie) and with wins.

That’s all that matters. We’re a society that appreciates winning more than the work that it takes to get there. Which, in turn, leads to folks like Pearl making the decisions that he did at Tennessee. However, he’s going to bring the same level of energy and enthusiasm (as characterized by Auburn officials) to Tiger basketball.

The NCAA makes about 90 percent of its budget with March Madness, worker productivity goes down and people don’t have to make up excuses to go to the nearest sports bar to cheer for teams that they didn’t care about for the past 10 months.

Besides I have a lot of television to catch up on, get prepared for a black belt test and a martial arts competition next month.

State tournament

FIrst, I would like to apologize to the fans, family, coaches and players of Mountainburg. I apologize for showing up at the state finals.

This was my third time to attend a state final and I’m officially 0-3 for state titles.

I’m also about 0-7 for attending state playoff games. (For the record I did not attend any of the state playoff games at Alma or Charleston this year. I didn’t want to temp the Fates or the sports gods.)

Still not a good record.

I’m not a superstitious person, but for some reason I’m rather peculiar about this sort of thing.

So, I apologize again, and when Mountainburg or any other Crawford County team makes to the state playoffs in the future, I’ll just remain at home or listen to it via Internet.

Speaking of the state tournament… words aren’t enough for me to express the reception I got from the AAA upon my check-in, the subsequent lecture and the AAA’s inability to at least pretend to be cordial. It made what was supposed to be an all-day event for my daughter and I into a one-and-done game.

To quote my daughter: "I’m done with this. When do we leave?" (And that was about 45 minutes before the tipoff for the game.)

Perhaps, it was for the best I left after the Mountainburg game.

I knew at least one person on the Greenwood and Charleston teams. I would have felt bad if both of those teams had lost in my presence.

Side note: I did teach my daughter how to keep stats. We had fun and it at least took our minds off what had transpired earlier.