Recently, a research firm suggested that the NCAA's March Madness basketball tournament costs American businesses a billion dollars in lost productivity. Luckily, the Olathe-headquartered National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics' postseason carries no such stigma. True, several of the games take place during workdays, but bracket pools aren't a factor, and the games aren't televised, so only those dedicated enough to check out the action in person miss any office time. Those are also the reasons why this tournament can be so charming. In addition to boisterous backers of small-time schools, these matchups attract basketball purists who don't need hyped rivalries and fanfare to enjoy watching the game they love. There are a few regional favorites, such as Columbia College and Missouri Baptist University, but to most in attendance, the winner matters less than seeing an intense match played with one-and-done urgency. And a pass for the 67th Annual NAIA Basketball National Championship at Municipal Auditorium (301 West 13th Street) costs only $40.
First- and second-round games take place Wednesday through Friday, quarterfinals are Saturday and semifinals are Monday. The championship game is slated for 7 p.m. Tuesday. Check out the bracket or game times at www.naia.org. For ticket information, call 913-764-1050.-- Andrew Miller
Volleyballs get served at Centerline.
Damn those Johnny Spring Break characters, with their puka-shell necklaces and orange-hued spray-on tans. They co-opted our beloved trucker hats, so we're gonna steal their favorite summer game: sand-court volleyball. Over the next three weekends, Centerline Volleyball (1910 S.E. 40 Highway in Blue Springs) offers free outdoor volleyball from 2 to 10 p.m., or "whenever people go home," according to general manager Kevin Griffel. Centerline, which boasts eight outdoor sand courts, wants to spread the word about its leagues, which start April 12, by offering these free Saturday and Sunday volleyball sessions. Potential players need to sign a waiver; it may be played on sand, but somebody might get hurt trying to spike one of our badass serves. For details, call 816-224-4455.-- Michael Vennard