March Madness has become Christmas for sportswriters who love cliches.
Each spring, journalists unwrap their favorite tired sayings, worn phrases and repetitive platitudes to describe the NCAA Basketball Tournament. (translation: The Big Dance.)
An each year, sports writers believe these cliches add pop, zing, and glitz when they really deflate journalism credibility by revealing how far they’ve bought into the sales pitch. Our job is not to promote but to inform and entertain – sometimes in the same story.
Unlike basketball, the NCAA wrestling championships this weekend are not called the Big Grapple, last weekend’s NCAA ski championships were not called the Big Slalom, and the indoor track and field championships are not called the Big Hurdle. (For the record, Iowa is seeking its third straight wrestling title.)
Yet, we continuously dance with basketball. Bubble teams either burst or float. Cinderella teams upset the big dogs. And writers try to point out the x-factors. More than 350 articles included ‘big dance’ in a Google search tonight.
Please, avoid these overly used phrases. Instead, do something really crazy and refer to the event as a ‘tournament’ and call surprising victories ‘upsets.’ Avoid this march toward madness by focusing on the key plays, analyzing trends within games and finding intriguing story lines. Those will be stories worth reading.