Writer: Andy Staples
Post time: Thursday, 4:51 p.m.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — If you’ve never had the pleasure of covering an NCAA tournament, then you probably don’t know about the blue curtains. They are the thin, faux-linen barriers that tell sportswriters where they can and cannot go, and they are the same make, model and size at every subregional/regional/Final Four site in America.
Except at courtside, where nametags tell us where to sit, our movements are governed entirely by the blue curtains. If you see flimsy blue fabric on your left and your right, you are in a permissible area. If you look left and see a blue curtain and look right and see a palate of hot dog buns or a high-major assistant handing an AAU coach a large bag emblazoned with a dollar sign, you are on the wrong side of the blue curtain.
This is especially confusing here in Charlotte, where organizers have designed the ultimate blue-curtain rat maze, a football field-long gauntlet that, alas, didn’t reward us with a giant hunk of Swiss cheese at journey’s end. Most of us got hopelessly lost Wednesday — we’re sportswriters, not aerospace engineers — and in one vain attempt at an exit, I almost wound up on the Tennessee team bus.
I’m convinced NCAA president Myles Brand has a cousin who runs a large blue-curtain factory in some industrial park in suburban Indianapolis. The NCAA forces wannabe regional sites to order these curtains by the ton, so it’s a pretty sweet deal — and probably a violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act. I’d investigate more, but I’m going to need the next four hours to successfully navigate my way through the blue curtains in time to cover the North Carolina-Washington State game.