College basketball season does not always have the uniform start that other major sports do but, in recent years, ESPN has helped greatly in promoting the game with a 24-hour marathon of action in the early going. In 2017, though, that tradition appears to be coming to an end.
Mike DeCourcy of Sporting News brings word from ESPN’s Josh Krulewitz and, in short, the message is that the worldwide leader will not be putting on the massive showcase for college hoops this season. While the reasoning is slightly fuzzy at this stage (as you would imagine), the report cites Krulewitz on the record as saying the marathon “presented some programming challenges and will not be part of our schedule this season.”
In truth, this makes quite a bit of sense. In order to fill a full 24 hours of coverage (including in the still of the night), ESPN has to both organize and execute games with tip-offs ranging from midnight through the rest of the morning hours and that can’t be easy. At the same time, the jam-packed schedule does provide a wake-up call to casual basketball fans that the sport is back and ESPN is the network you want to dial in to find it.
Krulewitz did tell the Sporting News that the network “may explore the return of the marathon concept in the future” but that isn’t the most ringing of endorsements about a comeback in 2018 or otherwise. Fear not, as ESPN will certainly have plenty of college basketball action coming in November and, frankly, you have to attempt to avoid games between universities on the air at that time.
Still, it won’t be coming in the now-traditional package for the first time since 2008 and it will be the end of an era for both die-hards and insomniacs.