Time Out with Newt Clark

With The University of Connecticut winning the National Championship this week, college basketball season has finally come to a close. If you watched any of the tournament, you see why so many people absolutely love college basketball. Whether it is watching Cinderella teams like Dayton upset in-state powerhouses like Ohio State on their way to Elite Eight, or watching two amazingly talented teams like Kentucky and Michigan battling it out to the final whistle, there is something for every sports fan to enjoy. As amazing as the actual basketball portion of March Madness is, there is one thing that almost makes it dreadful to watch—the excessive number of media timeouts.  

In each half of a regular season college basketball game there are four media timeouts, coming at the first stoppage of play with under 16, 12, eight and four minutes remaining in the half.  Then there are also commercial breaks when coaches use their timeouts, which are typically shorter than the media timeouts.

In the NCAA Tournament, they count the first coaches’ timeout of the first half as another media timeout and extend the commercial break. This leaves five media timeouts per half, and then eight more commercial breaks if both coaches use all of their timeouts. I do not have an exact length of how long these commercials were when added up, but I can assure you it is way too long.

My biggest problem with the commercial breaks, outside of having to watch the same five commercials over and over again, is that it messes with the flow of the game. College basketball is supposed to be a sport played in two 20 minute halves, not ten four minute segments. Sometimes I wonder how the players can even get that tired when they spend almost as much time standing around as they do actually playing the game. I also imagine it makes it much more difficult for the players to get in a rhythm offensively when they spend more time drawing up plays than they do running them.

With regards to fans, it is even a worse experience for those at the game than it is for the ones at home. At least when you’re at home you can turn it to some other commercials that may or may not have a live sporting event  playing in between, but when you are at the game there is really not much to do. At Tech games, you can only watch the Gold Rush Dancers so many times before it just gets old.

What I would really like to see college basketball do to solve this problem is cut out one of the timeouts and make the media timeouts at the under 15, 10 and five, but I don’t see that as being a realistic option. What I do believe would be a realistic option, and a step in the right direction, is if men’s basketball adopted a rule that was recently implemented in women’s basketball. If a coach calls a timeout within 30 seconds of the media timeout, it counts as the media timeout. This avoids a scenario where a coach calls a timeout at 12:03, and then the ball goes out of bounds at 11:58 leading to two commercial breaks in a five second span.

It’s sad to see the NCAA diminish the experience of the fans while also ruining their own product. Unfortunately, I don’t believe the NCAA there will ever do anything to limit the number of commercials. More commercials means more money, and the NCAA loves money.