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March Madness is hurting our children

Today's Stick In The Mud Award to goes to blogger Valerie Strauss, whose item in today's Perspective section of the JG worries that the NCAA tournament is a detriment to higher education because it causes students to either skip class to watch or be distracted by it if they go to class.

Here's what I say: Take a chill pill, lady.

Look, I have no idea how old Ms. Strauss is or what kind of educational background she has. But, as a former college student myself, let me clue her in on a couple of things.

No. 1, college students don't need the NCAA tournament to distract them. They're always looking for something to distract them. If not Da Tournament, the first 65-degree day.

No. 2, I hope she's not seriously trying to suggest that because a kid cuts class to go drink beer and watch the games, it will have some sort of long-term impact on his or her academic standing. I did my share of that when I was in college, if memory serves. I can't tell you how many times I've regretted it since.

Oh, wait, I can. Make it "none."

Here's the thing: The impact of the NCAA tournament on a college student's academics is minimal at best, because, in terms of direct conflict, we're only talking two days. After the first two days, all the games are played on the weekends or at night. I'm sure there are some students who have classes during that time, but not that many.

The kids whose academic standing will be directly affected by blowing off class on the Thursday and Friday of the first round are, I suspect, kids whose academic standing is already in jeopardy for a variety of reasons that have nothing to do with choosing basketball over books. I know, because when I graduated from college, those few days I spent watching hoops didn't exactly come back to haunt me.

Or so says a magna cum laude graduate of Ball State.

Ben Smith's blog.