Hlas column: Wrestling, women's basketball need their own shining moments

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The NCAA is a curious organization.

Everyone else in sports and show business understands you donít head-to-head with blockbuster events. Other networks donít waste popular programming against the Super Bowl. You donít put one of your big shows opposite the Academy Awards. You donít take a new series you feel good about and air it at the same time as ďAmerican Idol.Ē

But the NCAA says this: Letís jam other championships into the third weekend of March, even though thatís when we have our ultra-beloved, highly watched menís basketball tournament.

The NCAA Division I wrestling championships in Philadelphia concluded Saturday night. That was while American sports fans were primarily concerned about one thing, the D-I menís basketball tourney.

The NCAA womenís basketball tournament began Saturday with daylong coverage on the ESPNs, and today features another slate of 16 games. Much of it was placed right into the time slot of, thatís right, the D-I menís basketball tourney.

And while its second and third weeks of games wonít directly crash into much of the menís tournament, the womenís tournament is still held during the same weeks when the American sports public is focused on the menís event.

Is that not strange?

Now, there is a reality to face here. No matter when the womenís tournament and the national wrestling tourney are held, they will have small audiences compared to the menís basketball extravaganza. So the difference in television ratings or national attention wouldnít be huge no matter when they were moved.

But still, shouldnít the womenís basketball and wrestling people be doing everything they can to draw at least a little more awareness to their sports by seeking out their own time-frames?

Iíve heard wrestling people talk about this forever, but when are they going to adjust their sportís calendar so it builds to a conclusion either in February or April?

ESPN telecast Saturdayís wrestling finals, and thatís truly fantastic. But if you were a sports fan and not a wrestling-first fan, you were watching NCAA basketball at the same time the wrestling aired.

Why doesnít womenís basketball alter its season to finish before or after the men. Is the air time for the national-tourney not as available any other time with ESPN? If so, is that enough of a reason?

I would think having the womenís tourney finish the weekend before the conference tournaments on ESPN or a week or two after the menís tourney is done would let the womenís tourney breathe a little more.

Even though the womenís championship game has its own night, itís the night after the menís title game. Arenít we all a little basketballed out by then and ready to slide into baseball or the Masters or just being outside?

Undoubtedly, Iíll get correspondence from people explaining why now is the best times for the grappling and womenís hoops. I wonít buy it.

If the Super Bowl is on, Iím not doing much channel-surfing. Same goes for the NCAA menís basketball tournament, unless itís to go from one of its games to another. So fix this, NCAA. Just do it.

Now if youíll excuse me, I have a Michigan-Duke game to plan my day around.

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