As more than 40 million Americans prepare to fill out an estimated 70 million March Madness brackets, the nation will get a brief respite from the topics dominating the national conversation these days, the economy and politics. But that didn't stop March Madness commentators and basketball greats Charles Barkley, Grant Hill and Steve Smith from offering their take on the state of the economy, politics, oh, and basketball.
Eleven time NBA All-Star-turned-analyst Charles Barkley offered his perspective on the direction of the country, saying America has become a nation divided. "While America is the greatest place in the world, we have become a country where rich people are screwing poor people."
Barkley goes on to say that poor people need to stop fighting among themselves and work together to get things done. "People always talk about black, white, Democrats, Republicans — what this country is really about is rich people screwing poor people."
Barkley also talked about the value of education, one of the political issues, he says, that is most important to him. "I think we need to find a way to make college more accessible," he said. When it comes to paying student athletes, the former Auburn star, says we shouldn't discount a free education. "The cool thing about playing sports is you can get your degree when everyone else is paying off student debt. They could probably do a little more but don't ever underestimate the value of a free education."
Barkley, who once considered a political career of his own, said today's political race has become "silly."
"There is nobody in the world who I disagree with on every subject. You watch all these shows and they disagree on every subject. I feel bad for the regular person."
Hill said an election year always causes a bit of uncertainly but he thinks the country is in better shape than 2008. Hill wouldn't say who he's voting for but did say: "Let's just say I'm very liberal."
One thing everyone agreed upon is that March Madness brings our country together. "Sports and March Madness give people time to exhale and another outlet, something to take their mind off the negative things going on," said Smith, who played 14 seasons in the NBA after attending Michigan State. "Nothing can overshadow March Madness," said Barkley. "This is one of those events like Olympics and the Super Bowl."