The 11-time N.C.A.A. champion U.C.L.A. Bruins refused to hang its championship banner from the rafters of Pauley Pavilion.
And, when teams with a slim chance of earning an N.C.A.A. berth late in the season find themselves losing at the end of a game, opposing fans will taunt the players with chants of: 'N.I.T! N.I.T! N.I.T!'
The N.I.T. (or National Invitation Tournament) is the me-too event of the sports world.
It's a college basketball tournament that has even less relevance than a cameo by Twiggy (should I insert Kate Moss instead?) on 'The Biggest Loser'.
To those of you not in the know, the N.I.T. pits those highly mediocre college teams that were excluded from the Big Dance (AKA March Madness; AKA the N.C.A.A. Division I College Basketball Championship, etc.).
In other words, the N.I.T. picks the next best teams AFTER the top 68 squads have secured a berth in the brackets that matter. What do N.I.T. winners say: “We're number 69! We're number 69!”
Lots of top schools have refused to participate in the past, including: Oklahoma State, Louisville, Georgia Tech and Georgetown.
So, why does the N.I.T. still exist? Their website points to a rich heritage and unique format in which teams get to play on their home courts before four finalists compete for the title at Madison Square Garden. Oh.
I think the real reason the N.I.T. still has a pulse is purely economic. The schools need the revenue. So, too, does the N.C.A.A., which in an ironic twist, bought the ailing N.I.T. a few years back. But, no one, and I mean no one, else cares about the second-rate tourney. My alma mater, Northeastern University, is playing in this year's N.I.T., but you won't see me trash-talking about it. I'd rather forget it altogether.
In a 24×7 sports world already chock full of leagues, all-star games and tournaments, someone should step up, do the right thing and euthanize the N.I.T. It would be the humane thing to do.
America doesn't need a tournament that could be best described in the same way John Garner once defined the vice presidency: “It's not worth bucket of warm piss.”