Tonight, most of the sports world will turn its eyes to Houston to watch Villanova take on North Carolina in the 2016 NCAA Men’s Basketball National Championship. But what if you hate fun and don’t like college basketball? What if you’re just excited for baseball to be back and want to watch that instead? Or you’re an “NBA is better than college basketball” type who would rather watch "The Voice" than “kids making mistakes” on a basketball court? Sorry, society dictates that you’ll be talking about this game Tuesday morning…unless you choose to boycott! Here are five ways to avoid watching the game while also taking the moral high ground.
Protest the lack of equal pay in college sports
In the light of legal action from female soccer players, it’s never been a better time to boycott something over the gender-equality gap. You’re not super into numbers, but you just know the competitors in this game are probably making way more than anyone in the women's championship. The fact that Ryan Arcidiacono goes out and makes millions while Breanna Stewart barely gets paid is good enough reason to eschew water-cooler talk.
Protest the ties to slavery or Jim Crow or something that UNC has gotta have, right?
I mean, UNC is in the South, right? There’s gotta be something deep in their history books that’s super racist. Well, yeah, the whole education system is set up to favor whites, but I mean something more specific. Every school in the South must have some bit of questionable history you can use to protest the game. You went to a Northern school that’s totally clean of racial impropriety, unlike what must have gone on at Chapel Hill, at some point. Can’t you find some old president with three names who used the term “coloreds” a lot, or a building named after a slave owner? Grasping at straws here, but all you need is the smallest thing, and you’re set.
Protest because your cousin Dalton didn’t get accepted to Villanova
You edited the mess of an essay. You helped him pick the right fake extracurriculars. You even wrote three of his largely inconsequential thirteen letters of recommendation. But even then, when Dalton opened up his mailbox: a rejection from Villanova. He picked out this school as the perfect launching pad for inheriting his dad’s money, only for the cruel hellbeasts that roam the admissions office to strike down everything Dalton had ever believed in. The boy himself will probably get over things, but you, with your strange sense of pride and a real desire to watch "Gotham" instead, seize on the opportunity to talk about something other than college basketball.
Protest due to the unfairness of playing at NRG Stadium
A lot has been made about the Final Four venue. NRG Stadium's day job is to host the Houston Texans, so the sight lines are much longer than those of a normal basketball venue. The data suggests this might adversely affect the players and lead to poor shooting. While Syracuse wasn’t reaching for that excuse after its not-very-close loss to North Carolina, there’s just enough meat on this 75,000-seat bone to boycott the game. The sanctity of the competition, you could say, is tarnished by the inconsistent background shooters have to adjust to.
Protest single-elimination tournaments
Picking one winner out of 351 equally talented and deserving Division I teams is a tough proposition. So even though the top two KenPom teams are facing off in the Final, you make the case that the 68-team single-elimination tournament is a flawed method for choosing a champion. Citing its small number of games, susceptibility to randomness, and general “lack of statistical rigor,” you can put your co-workers to sleep by telling them that the games they just watched over the past four weeks are part of a system that tries to sum up a full season of play in just one game. And while most of the systems you propose would lead to June Madness, at least the NCAA tournament would be easier to ignore if it were up against the NBA Finals.
Raynell Cooper is a writer and rabble-rouser based in Washington DC. You should follow him on Twitter.