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Mitch Perry Report for 3.21.16 — Trying to get with “The Program”

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Good morning, and welcome to the first full day of spring 2016.

While ESPN was being trashed via Twitter for hailing Fidel Castro‘s “love of sports,” American fans were absorbed in watching the college basketball playoffs, where we’re now down to the Sweet 16 in what is also known as “March Madness,” a/k/a “The Final Four,” and a/k/a “a lot of overrated basketball,” if you ask me.

The NCAA men’s basketball tournament can still thrill on occasion, but it’s a far cry from its brilliance of the ’80s, ’90s and early aughts, and that’s because of the pipeline that allows players to jump directly into the NBA after a single season.

I don’t begrudge the players getting that opportunity to make money immediately. It’s just that it’s outlandish to call this the same brand of great basketball that the tourney used to be on a national platform in previous years. Something about the lack of continuity in a sports program, something that you don’t have in college football, where players can’t declare early for the draft.

Guys don’t play long enough with any university if they’re really good. Some, like Steph Curry at Davidson or Frank Kaminsky at Wisconsin, learn they need to play all four seasons to be prepared for the rigors of the NBA.

Speaking of the NBA, the biggest regular season game of the year went down Saturday night, and the San Antonio Spurs throttled the Golden State Warriors, 87-79. Yes, the Splash Brothers and company didn’t even muster 80 points. It was a gritty, defensive-oriented game, and the Warriors were down a couple of significant men. But this is the cream of the crop in the NBA, and the level of high-level play was astonishing.

Speaking of sports, I saw “The Program” over the weekend.

That’s the new biopic of the dark side of the Lance Armstrong story, and it’s somewhat compelling. Ben Foster plays Armstrong, and you get all the greatest hits of his saga with performing enhancement drugs. If you’re familiar with that element of Armstrong’s life story, there’s the excitement of certain scenes coming to life that has been documented for years. Not a great film, but an interesting one.

In other news …

David Jolly and Todd Wilcox mixed it up pretty good on Friday afternoon in Tampa. Unlike most of the audiences that these men will be speaking in front of over the next four months, this was a mixed house, with actually probably more Democrats present. So while Jolly may have come off better with the crowd than the conservative Wilcox, I’m not sure how this plays out in so many other parts of the state.

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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