Read the opposing argument from Bleacher Fan.
After my first debate here at TSD I remember being frustrated that I lost. Who could blame me? My argument was as compelling as it was entertaining, but nevertheless I lost. I remember bragging that I may have lost the debate, but I had the popular support (as my argument received 62 percent of the vote), but Loyal Homer and Bleacher Fan were there to serve me a large slice of humble pie. One of them emailed me saying, “Losing the debate but winning the popular vote is like being the prettiest ugly girl at the dance.” As much as it pains me to say this… they were right. (You might want to bookmark this debate as it will be one of the last times I ever concede that point.) Their words are extremely applicable to today’s debate: Is it better to win a couple of games in the NIT than to lose in the NCAA tournament?
The NIT is the loser’s bracket. I am not saying that there aren’t any talented teams in the NIT, because there are. But for the most part, teams are in the NIT because they were not good enough for one of the real tournament’s spots. Sure, there are exceptions of snubbed schools and good mid-major teams that arguably deserve to be in the Big Dance, but that just proves my point. We cry foul at their exclusion from the NCAA tournament because we feel they don’t belong in the loser’s bracket. The NIT is like competing and winning honorable mention. It is a glorified participation trophy, a consolation prize. And you know who gets consolation prizes, right? Losers. I know that’s tough for people to read out there, but it is true. In sports, like life, there are winners and losers. Experiencing defeat is important in life. It encourages growth and provides motivation for the future.
You know that annoying guy at work. The guy who thinks he is always right, always wants to do everything his way, and cannot take constructive criticism. He is like that for a reason. He is apart of a whole generation out there now entering the work force. Men and women who were told there are no losers in life and we are all the same. He probably never learned to work hard, be disciplined, or work as a team because he was never forced to lose. There was always a certificate of participation or a best effort medal there to remind him he’s perfect just the way he is. But I digress.
Teams that did not make the NCAA tournament failed to reach their goal – winning the national championship. If winning the national championship, as unrealistic as it may seem for some teams, is not their goal, then they are selling themselves short. Decent teams like Cincinnati, Virginia Tech, and UConn were not good enough for the Big Dance. Does that make them losers? Absolutely! But losing should serve as motivation to not only return to the NCAA tournament next year, but to win it as well.
Loyal Homer mentioned in his introduction to this debate that teams like Memphis, Baylor, and Notre Dame have gone from deep runs in the NIT to deep runs in the NCAA Tournament. This only proves my point even more. They were not satisfied with a good performance in a secondary tournament. These teams wanted to win where it mattered most – The Big Dance.
Even high school athletes don’t set out to be second best. No one really wants to play on the junior varsity (JV) team. Real competitors want and strive to play on the varsity level. Why? Because it is the only one that matters. Even if a JV team goes undefeated it’s not really a big deal because JV games are not competitions at the highest level. They are glorified scrimmages, over-hyped exhibitions between practice squads. The same should hold true for college athletes. They should not put too much stock into a tournament of teams excluded from the recognized national championship. Bragging about winning the NIT is akin to bragging that your school has the best JV team in the state.
Finally, let’s compare two schools – UNC (17-16) and Georgia Tech (22-12). The University of North Carolina Tar Heels began the season attempting to defend their national championship, but as the season went on it became clear that they would not be able to do that. In fact, their record was so poor they were not even included in the Big Dance at all. North Carolina not only lost to competitive conference teams like Clemson, Duke, and Georgia Tech, but suffered defeat to mid-major upsets like College of Charleston. Georgia Tech, on the other hand, is playing at an elevated level this season, even defeating one seed Duke during the regular season. The Yellow Jackets figure to make a strong showing in the NCAA tournament. Even if UNC goes on to win the NIT and Georgia Tech only wins two rounds of the NCAA tournament, can the accomplishments of UNC be considered superior? No.
In the end, it all boils down to the level of competition. The NIT by its very nature is less competitive than the NCAA tournament and cannot be compared… that is unless someone is looking for the title of prettiest ugly girl at the dance.