Better TV keeping fans away from tournament

Staff WriterMarch 10, 2011 

There were thousands of empty seats in Greensboro Coliseum a year ago for the ACC basketball tournament.

Outside North Carolina's Smith Center for an 8 p.m., Feb. 15 game between the Tar Heels and Wake Forest, $50 tickets were selling for $10 or less.

And when the Demon Deacons came to Raleigh's RBC Center on Jan. 8 for N.C. State's first conference game of the year, the Wolfpack announced a crowd of 16,591, well below the capacity of 19,700.

Tight money and a watered-down league no doubt are keeping many potential customers away from the gates, of course.

So, too, is television.

With all of the important games televised live, not only is it cheaper to stay home and watch. There are also more amenities. For instance:

Free parking and/or no traffic jams.

Beverages of your choice on demand, if you so choose.

If it's a 9 o'clock midweek start, you're already back home the second it ends.

Ringside seating in a comfortable chair.

No verbally offensive cheering to provide an unwelcome expansion of a youngster's vocabulary.

Automatic replays and plenty of them.

And coming soon - if the networks get their way, which they usually do - in-game interview segments with the coaches.

When was the last time you saw even a mildly controversial play rewind on the arena video boards? That's if your team's building has a video scoreboard.

If a play involves any sort of difficult officiating decision, odds are you will not get see a replay if you're in attendance. The same goes for memorable plays by the visiting team.

If you're home, you get to see the play in question from three or four different angles, plus an explanation and/or opinion from the announcers and sometimes an interpretation provided for the telecast by the officials themselves.

If you were in Cameron Indoor Stadium for the March 2 Duke game against Clemson, odds are you didn't see Blue Devils coach Mike Krzyzewski bang a chair on the court during a timeout.

If you were watching at home, you got two video replays of the incident.

It has been obvious for years that television viewers get a better deal than those who purchase the tickets and invest the time and trouble of watching the event first-hand.

The atmosphere in the building may be better, but that's about it.

And really, it's an arrangement the schools prefer from a financial perspective.

The ACC recently completed a $2 billion television deal.

With that kind of money, who needs in-house audience?

Heck, maybe the schools should hire folks to come in, sit down, spend the evening and make a little noise for the sake of impressing recruits and to generate a home-court advantage.

The schools certainly can afford it, and just think about the part-time jobs it would create.

caulton.tudor@newsobserver.com or 919-829-8946

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