The lockout is on, the backlash is building, and the bad feeling between NFL players and owners pales next to the rearview mirror disdain of their fans, who are now embracing the good vibes of March Madness.
Everybody's in with his or her bracket and getting more than ever out of every game in the expanded 68-team NCAA tournament—precisely the goal that brought SI into a strategic partnership with Turner Sports, which now has three networks broadcasting games (TBS, TNT and truTV) along with CBS (A Viewer's Guide, page 52). Four networks means no more jumps between in-progress games but rather alerts when a better game is in progress on another network and directions to get there—a roaring breakthrough in TV strategy in the interests of fans.
Even better, the NCAA March Madness on Demand app will provide live-streaming video of every game, beginning with the First Four on March 15 (on truTV). The games will also be available on SI.com and free to users across all SI platforms. NCAA.com's Game Center dashboard features in-game highlights, live stats, a lead tracker and a chart of players in foul trouble. You can read pregame scouting reports and get highlights of every completed game—with updated and printable brackets. The March Madness Social Arena is a virtual meeting place for fans, as well as for TBS and CBS courtside reporters, who will cull through social media to provide the most interesting tweets and trends. Fans will be able to interact with reporters, comment on games and vote on the most impressive moment of the day. As part of a deal with Facebook and NCAA.com, fans can "like" teams in each round and build a team's social score as part of a bracket. All good.
The NCAAs now have everything: total access, social networking, win-or-go-home games, the pure joy of sport. What's going on in the NFL may look insane right now, but it's only March, and besides, we have a finer Madness.