Summer is normally a dead period for sports networks. Even if the network has baseball, golf, tennis, horse racing, sailing, the WNBA and other sports, there still seems to be a need for more content to bridge the gap until football starts in late August and September.

So ESPN has signed a deal to carry something called “The Basketball Tournament.” What is “The Basketball Tournament”? It’s an open-application, 5-on-5 single-elimination, winner take-all tournament that allows regular fans, former college and professional players and others to take part.

It begins on July 10-12 with 96 teams at regional sites in Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles and Philadelphia. Television then comes into play with ESPNU televising several  “Super 17” games, the 16 survivors from the regionals plus the defending champion (yes, there’s a champion from last year) Notre Dame Fighting Alumni which consisted of several former Big East players. And once final four are determined, they’ll go to New York to determine a champion and those games will aired on ESPN.

Last year, the winner received $500,000 and with ESPN involved, the prize is now doubled to $1,000,000 which will be divided among the team and its fans.

Teams even have a general manager, a booster, a coach, a roster of 7-12 players and fans.

The ESPN press release explains the concept:

Entry into TBT is free, with an application period that runs from April 1st through June 1st. The only way for Teams to qualify is to organize themselves and recruit votes via To be considered for entry, teams must consist of a General Manager (GM), at least seven players, and have 100+ votes. GMs will create team profiles on in hopes of garnering enough votes to get an automatic bid to the tournament by the June 1st application deadline. Applicants must be 18 or older.

Fans who have registered on will vote for their favorite teams, and 18 teams per region will be selected solely based on how many fan votes they are able to recruit online. TBT will invite six additional teams to play in each region based on creativity and talent.  Additionally, for the first time anywhere, the winning team’s fan group will share 5% ($50,000) of the overall prize.

And The Basketball Tournament even has a further explanation on its website.

So if you want a chance to win a cool million dollars and think you can ball, then this might be for you.

[ESPN/The Basketball Tournament]

About Ken Fang

Ken has been covering the sports media in earnest at his own site, Fang's Bites since May 2007 and at Awful Announcing since March 2013.

He provides a unique perspective having been an award-winning radio news reporter in Providence and having worked in local television.

Fang celebrates the four Boston Red Sox World Championships in the 21st Century, but continues to be a long-suffering Cleveland Browns fan.

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