MCCULLERS COLUMN: We keep nitpicking, and sports keep delivering

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Nothing will ever be perfect, and sports are no exception.

There will always be corruption and scandal, incorrect calls and imperfect rules.

Try as we may to achieve perfection (or anything close to it), flaws will exist as long as humans are involved in playing, policing and regulating sports that are objective in myriad ways.

With that in mind, however, it’s a mistake to allow all of the negative aspects — and, as stated, there are plenty of them — to taint our appreciation for the enjoyable, entertaining and enthralling facets of sports that attract us all.

Take the current topic of discussion in the sports world, March Madness, for example.

Before the tournament began, believing some pundits, columnists and talking heads would have meant believing college basketball was disintegrating right before our eyes.

The selection show, the televised event during which the teams that will play in the NCAA tournament are revealed, was a wreck, they said. Too long, too boring, too much talk and not enough substance.

The selection committee, the group of people that picks the field of 68 teams, missed the mark, they insisted. How could Oklahoma State, which beat rival Oklahoma in two of three meetings, be left out of the tournament while the Sooners snuck into the field? How did 13-loss Syracuse make the cut over the likes of 28-5 Saint Mary’s and 24-7 Middle Tennessee State?

Above all, they reminded us, the ongoing investigation into the underbelly of college basketball that currently hangs over the sport like an ominous cloud could mean this Big Dance will be historically irrelevant.

And after all the fuss, what has the tournament provided?

It’s given us the biggest upset in NCAA Tournament history, 16th-seeded UMBC’s 74-54 victory over top-seeded Virginia.

It’s given us the Loyola-Chicago Ramblers and their lovable team chaplain, Sister Jean, who have become the darlings of the dance with improbable wins over Miami and Tennessee.

It’s given us one of the craziest second rounds in recent memory, one in which Syracuse — yes, that Syracuse — bounced national title contender Michigan State while Texas A&M, Nevada and Florida State all scored upset victories.

Not too shabby, and the Sweet 16 has yet to begin.

There will always be room for improvement in how sports are played, coached, officiated and managed, and we should always work to make them better when and where possible.

Let’s just not forget to enjoy the ride while doing so.

Evan McCullers is a sports reporter and columnist for the Daily Inter Lake. He can be contacted by phone at (406) 758-4463 or by email at emccullers@dailyinterlake.com.

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