Thursday, September 25, 2008
The week of November 12th, we are dedicating our site to our annual National Letter of Intent signings for Class of 2009 graduates. If your team has anyone signing that you want to recognize, please send us the following information in this order.
1) Players Name
2) Players Height, Weight, Side He Bats/Throws and Position(s)
3) Travel Team Name and links to their team site
4) High School and links to his high school team site
5) College Attending and links to future college team
If you have a picture...give us that too!!!
E-Mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
We will post every player that will be signing. Our goal is to put together the most comprehensive and meaningful list of NLI signings in the country.
Our format this year will be a bit different. We will break out the signings by region and by state so that we can put more information like pictures and links for each player. Again, e-mail us at email@example.com.
Last year, as we scoured the nations newspapers looking for news on players that may have slipped our web of contacts, we noticed that 95% of newspapers nationwide did not cover or mention any baseball National Letter of Intent signings for the graduates of 2008. Those same newspapers did announce basketball NLI's. This isn't new and it's been done this way for years because baseball is not considered a revenue generating sport like basketball and football. But as the true American Pastime, the sport deserves better. We will give them the recognition they deserve.
The good news is...we see a change in the making as it relates to baseball as a revenue sport. The past few years have seen more national TV coverage of college from ESPNU and Fox. The much publicized hiring of George Horton at Oregon had the same feel and excitement of the hiring of a major college basketball or football coach. With help from Nike's Phil Knight, watch out for the Pac 10 and the rest of college baseball to change the nations perception of the college game this coming season.
But even now, baseball IS a revenue generating sport in many SEC and Big 12 south schools. Texas, Arkansas, Mississippi St, Wichita St., Oklahoma St., Nebraska, Arizona St, LSU (Who leads the nation in baseball attendance and sell-outs), Baylor, Rice, South Carolina, Fresno St. to name a few, are all profitable college baseball programs. When Rice built it's new stadium, it's attendance doubled. Nebraska averages well over 3,000 fans a game.
The SEC continues to break their attendance records each year in it's 12 SEC ballparks by drawing well over 1.5 million fans. The SEC has drawn over one million in paid attendance for seven straight seasons. No other conference has ever drawn a million or more fans to its baseball stadiums during a single season. During the 2005 season, for the first time in college baseball history, two schools (Ole Miss and Mississippi State) had on-campus crowds of over 10,000 fans for a regular season game on the same day. The largest on-campus crowd in the country was in 2006, when over 13,000, witnessed Georgia at Mississippi State on April 8. The 2008 SEC Baseball Tournament, drew over 100,000 for the 4th time in the last five years.
We encourage more influential people like Phil Knight to propel college and high school baseball as a revenue generating sport for the rest of the country, outside the SEC, Big 12 and several Western state schools.
But, for that to happen, we need to see more top round draftable players opt for college and play for their state or area school, get an education, and not just disappear into the minor league system for three-four years. If players would opt for college, we as fans can continue to follow them via the growing number of broadcast options available to us such as ESPN, FOX, CSTV and others. And, as more top prospects enter college, the competition would start to mimic the minors. In addition, the summer leagues in Cape Cod, Northwoods, Coastal Carolina, Alaska, etc. would play an even more important role in the development of future pro prospects. Plus, did we mention that these players could get a meaningful, life altering, career boosting, brain stimulating, college education?
As you can tell, we love college and college sports in general. Wouldn't it be nice to hear Fox's Joe Buck or ESPN's Jon Miller introduce MLB players as a product of their college, like they do in football and basketball? Wouldn't you like to see more pages dedicated in sport magazines and newspapers to collegiate baseball? We would too. Here's a start. Call your local newspaper and tell them to announce the baseball NLI signings this year. So what, it's not baseball season...these high school baseball players worked hard to sign that life changing piece of paper and they should be recognized as well.
Rounding Third Staff