NCAA East Coast Bias Still Going Strong
Friday, March 27, 2015
East Coast Bias, if you’re unfamiliar, is the tendency of American sports broadcasters to give greater attention and deference to teams and athletes on the East Coast than their West Coast counterparts. Twelve years ago, David Schoenfield wrote a piece for ESPN that explained 10 cases of East Coast bias – many of which still ring true today. The only exception to the rule as of late is the attention the Seattle Seahawks receive, half of which is seemingly the media’s bizarre obsession with Marshawn Lynch. Before that, Richard Sherman’s thoughts and feelings on Michael Crabtree were more important than the NFC Championship game his team just played. Aaron Hernandez’s arrest for murder didn’t even garner as much attention. Anyways, I digress. This East Coast superiority complex is none more evident than in college sports. March Madness Case in Point: the Big East and the Big 12.
Together, these conferences represented nearly one-fifth of the teams in the bracket at the beginning of the tournament. Sure, Xavier and West Virginia made it to the Sweet 16, but the former went down to Arizona 60-68 and I’m not even sure West Virginia showed up to play against Kentucky. 39-78? I mean, the Wildcats are good, but if you’re that far in the tournament, you shouldn’t be losing to another team by almost 40 points. That’s the score you see when the freshmen team scrimmages the varsity team. Yeesh. Oklahoma will try to be the lone team from either conference to make it to the Elite Eight tomorrow. In fairness to the Big East, the NCAA inflated its entire stock when Villanova emerged as a possible No. 1 seed, but six bids to the tournament was excessive no matter how good Villanova was or who put up a fight against them. Stanford, for example, could have probably fared better than most of those teams. It’s easy to say after the fact, but even I, a future grad student and fan of St. John’s, feel like the NCAA threw a bunch of East Coast spaghetti at the wall to see if anything would stick, and no one questioned it because most of the teams have storied histories in the tournament to some extent. But that doesn’t mean they should automatically get bids to the tournament.
Has anyone even said anything about Utah after its impressive victory over Georgetown? Those “HOYA SAXA” chants didn’t last long. I listened to sports radio on several different satellite stations on my three hour drive back to Seattle from Portland and maybe heard five minutes worth of recap despite the fact it was a really, really good game to watch and people got loud for Utah. In fact, it looked to me like everyone in the Moda Center banded together in West Coast solidarity--even though most people there donned Oregon or Arizona gear. East Coast Bias has apparently gotten so bad for us West Coast folk that we root for our conference rivals.
Arizona, despite being lauded by the President of the Free World himself as the only team who could potentially beat the other Wildcats, has only lost three games all season. I can’t wait to see what they have to offer against Wisconsin. Though this year finally looks to be one where Gonzaga can get to the final, UCLA continues to quietly dominate opponents and no one should be treating them like an 11-seed at this stage of the tournament. If those games don’t get the Pac-12 the notoriety it deserves, then maybe countrywide hatred for the Blue Devils will. Regardless, I’ll be rooting for all of them.
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