I’m not claiming an original thought here. Anyone who a) walked into Cowboys Stadium on Thursday as the four participating teams prepared for the start of the NCAA Tournament South Regional and b) has seen the movie “Hoosiers” had to think about the famous scene in which Norman Dale (Gene Hackman) has one of his players read the measurements from the back board to the free-throw line and the rim to the floor.
“I think you’ll find it’s the exact same measurements as our gym back in Hickory,” Dale said. “OK, let’s get dressed for practice.”
It’s about as beautifully subtle as a sports movie gets. As they’re walking off the court, Dale admits, under his breath to an assistant, that it’s big. Well, Butler Field House, the setting for the famous Hoosiers scene, could easily fit inside Cowboy Stadium. Maybe three Butler Field Houses could fit inside Cowboy Stadium. More to the point, I don’t believe you could fit the Cowboys Stadium gigantic scoreboard inside Butler Field House.
This is all pointing to the thing I want to stress, which is that I hate basketball games played in football stadiums. When I was 10 years old, I attended the NBA All Star Game at the Astrodome. Attended is the right word. I sort of watched it, inasmuch as you can watch something that’s technically happening in the same room but is also at least 100 yards from where you are sitting. It’s still the only time I’ve ever been in a building in which Michael Jordan was playing basketball, so it counts for something. But the main thing I remember is being a long, long way from the court. Basketball arenas are wonderful, mostly because they create the optimal experience for viewing basketball. Football stadiums are abysmal places for watching basketball. My observation about Cowboys Stadium, which will host the Final Four in 2014, is that if you care about watching basketball then you can list all of the things you like about your favorite arena and Cowboys Stadium is the opposite of that.
But I also understand this about venues: you play as big a place as you can play. Is the NCAA greedy and grabbing at every dollar it can get by placing these games in football stadiums? Yes. But you gotta make hay while the sun is shining, I guess.
My theory of live music has evolved to this: you play as big a venue as you can fill with sound and people. If you’re a folksy singer/songwriter with a syrupy-but-mousy voice, you play tiny coffee shops and the dozen or so people who love you show up. If you’re U2, you play football stadiums.
And I suppose the same goes for sports. Would I rather watch tonight’s South Region matchups Michigan vs. Kansas and Florida vs. Florida Gulf Coast at the American Airlines Center in downtown Dallas? Absolutely. Am I cool with it being at Cowboys Stadium? I’m cool-ish. Am I going to boycott? Hell no.
Photo taken by me on my iPhone. Not pictured: Amanda Enfield, whom I walked past court side inside Cowboys Stadium on Thursday.
Follow The Live Ball on Twitter @live_ball.