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ACC Tournament Evokes More Nostalgia Than Excitement For Me These Days

March 10, 2011

Sail With The Pilot!In trying to come up with a litmus test to determine when, in fact, the ACC Tournament faded from "Greatest Thing Ever" to "Mere Prelude To Selection Sunday," I settled on this, and let me know if you agree:

The ACC Tournament as I knew it ended when they stopped wheeling TVs into the classrooms on Quarterfinal Fridays.

Now, I'm sure there are a few pockets in the state where in-class watching of the tournament is still done. Pockets of the state the transplants haven't discovered yet or don't dare venture into; where the average age of folks borders on AARP Qualifing Age; where time has stood still since 1980 and creeps along at a snail's pace relative to the world around it.

If you're a teacher in one of these pockets who insists on still watching the tournament in class, God bless you. 

But the practice has largely died off because—unlike it was in the 80s and 90s—the ACC Tournament's slow slide into "meh" status no longer justifies teachers sacrificing class time to keep tabs on it.

It didn't use to be this way.

It used to be when Quarterfinal Friday rolled around, the day-to-day life of North Carolina was put on hold. Businesses closed after 12:00. Kids skipped school. Teachers skipped school. Principals skipped school. (Quarterfinal Friday was a busy day for substitute teachers.)

Anyone that dared attempting to conduct business-as-usual in North Carolina on Quarterfinal Friday was quickly derided by the old timers as "probably a damn Yankee" or folks who were "a little light in the sneakers," if you know what I mean (not that there's anything wrong with that). 

Quarterfinal Friday was heaven for me. I never skipped school for it (mostly because I didn't have parents that felt like I did about ACC basketball), but I never wanted to. By the grace of God, I was always blessed with teachers who got the importance of the tournament and planned accordingly by reserving a TV cart for that day.

It started in elementary school and presisted all the way through high school. I owe a bit of gratitude to these teachers along the way for showing me that the ACC Tournament was an event, and was treated as such, just like a Shuttle Launch or any other big news of the day. 

Back then, it was the news of the day.

And now, those days are no more. The one-team expansion of adding Florida State to the fold meant adding a game on Thursday night, breaking the seal on the tournament too soon. When the noon game came on Friday afternoon when there were only eight teams, you were so stoked for its arrival because it was the first action of the tournament, and not the second game. Some of the anticipation factor had been drained.

You could say the growth to a 12-team league shoveled the last bit of dirt on the Old ACC, but the ACC Tournament had lost that peak buzz factor years prior. If anything, adding the 12 teams gave us two Quarterfinal Fridays instead of one–a watered down one and a "real" one. In lieu of excitement and anticipation, I'll take more basketball over less basketball.

We can't ever go back to the eight-team glory days of the 70s, 80s and early 90s, when ACC basketball ruled college sports. The revenue engine college football became in the 90s was too big and too risky to ignore. While my heart sided with the blue bellies who fought against expansion, my head knew remaining an nine-team forever would be the ACC's death sentence.

The revenue from college football and the BCS specifically has allowed previously football-only schools like Texas, Florida and Ohio State to drain the basketball leagues of the quality coaching and players that normally flowed its way. Not expanding would've only put the ACC further behind in revenue, making it virtually impossible to pay market value for the coaches needed to sustain it. The ACC and Big East have taken two seperate paths to save their viability, and I think ultimately a 12-team ACC is the better answer long-term than the grotesque 16-team monster that is the Big East.

It is what it is.

But back to the heart of the matter, I feel badly for today's kids who won't get to experience the joy and vacation-at-school feel of watching Quarterfinal Friday in class. It used to be truly one of the best days of the year.

 

 

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10 Comments leave one →
  1. Core permalink
    March 10, 2011 9:28 pm

    Summs up my feelings on the tournament exactly. I’m watching golf right now instead of empty seat thursday at the coliseum.

  2. SlackZac permalink
    March 10, 2011 9:38 pm

    part of the demise for me is that nc state was often already out of the tournament by friday. it just didn’t have the same allure. i’d like to look it up. how many times have the pack not made it to the friday games?

  3. packalum08 permalink
    March 11, 2011 1:11 am

    I moved to NC as a 7-year old in ’92. Loved watching the ACCT and cheering for the ‘Pack (best friend was a State fan). And Friday was the best. Some teachers would let us watch, others were not so kind. I remember walking the halls in middle school (this was before the internet took off) and trying to find out who knew who won the initial game. It was all any of the guys and most of the girls were talking about. There are plenty of reasons for my increasing lack of interest in the ACCT (State struggling, more teams, weaker conference top-to-bottom, the increase in exposure of teams outside the ACC), but there is still a bit of magic in it for me, even if it is only nostalgic.

  4. SlackZac permalink
    March 11, 2011 1:28 pm

    my 9 year old son said they had the TV on in his classroom yesterday. I thought that was awesome.

  5. Ewcanes permalink
    March 11, 2011 2:11 pm

    good artcile

  6. Brandon Honeycutt permalink
    March 11, 2011 2:36 pm

    I remember watching all the games in class such a good time sometimes we would have to beg the teacher or bribe them but in the end they would give in…I miss those days..luckily my boss is good about letting us watch the games lol

  7. Kevin permalink
    March 11, 2011 4:20 pm

    “This Used to Be My Playgound”

  8. March 18, 2011 3:30 am

    I could not have said it better myself! I miss those good ole days. Of course those were also the days when NC teams made up half the ACC too.

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