Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Have you noticed that more and more high school games are being televised nationally? This fall, every weekend was filled with national football games of the week on ESPN or Fox Sports Net. ESPN is televising HS basketball with regularity now. It wasn't too long ago, we thought it was over the top when they televised Lebron James' St. Vincent-St. Mary (Akron, Ohio) teammates upend top-ranked Oak Hill Academy at Cleveland State University in 2002. So, can televised high school baseball be far behind?
High school football and basketball games are televised usually to showcase a team or a group of players that have national prominence. These player rankings are compiled by popular online services like Rivals and publications such as Rise that are distributed throughout high schools across America. Baseball too, has it's stars and player rankings that are posted on online sites such as Perfect Game and Student Sports/Rivals....for a price...but posted nevertheless. And many of you reading this that are on travel teams, have probably seen many of those top ranked players play at the WWBA, JO's, USA Baseball Nationals or a PG national showcase. Therefore, like basketball and football, the interest and awareness of these players is there.
Should the networks televise the games then? I'm sure if they decided to give it a try, there would initially be a backlash ala Lebron's TV debut...but now that we are used to high school basketball and football telecasts, I'm sure we could get used to baseball on the tube as well.
ESPN wouldn't even have far to travel. The East Coast has plenty to offer. Amazingly, St Johns College High School in our Nations Capital has NINE players committed to D-I's including AFLAC All-American Scott Silverstein and North Carolina bound LJ Hoes. We're not sure that there has ever been a high school team signing that many players. If it indeed is a record...well, we're not network programmers, but to us, that would make a pretty good storyline.
Regionally, there could be some great match-ups made just for TV. Florida's Amercian Heritage with SIX D-1's and TWO AFLAC All-Americans in Eric Hosmer and Adrian Nieto could be pitted against in-state power Lake Brantley with FOUR D-I's signed. Back up East, Don Bosco Prep (FOUR D-I Signees) and last years pre-season #1, Seton Hall Prep (THREE Signees) could provide a battle of the Jersey Boys.
And then there are the loaded tournaments like the Phil Nevin Classic (CA) or Lincoln National Spring Break Invitational, (FL) which are sure to bring in national talent. Would you watch High School baseball on national TV? Do You WANT High School Baseball on National TV? How would your son feel if his team had the chance to play in front of a national TV audience? Personally, we think it could be great for the overall perception and popularity of youth baseball in general. Do you realize how big ABC's College Game Day with Herbstreet and the Boys is to the colleges that they visit? College fans beam with excitement and pride when these guys visit their campus. Can that be duplicated at the high school level...YES...Click on St. Edwards of Ohio's web site...Do you THINK they were excited to have ESPN coverage? It certainly makes for an interesting discussion.