Monday, March 9, 2009
Collegiate Crowds in California Are An Embarrassment
We have a bone to pick...and it happens to be a rant against our own home state.
Other than Fresno State, Cal State Fullerton and Stanford, many California crowds at college games are sparse, lack any enthusiasm and are treated as an afterthought by the athletic department. In a state that has given us the greatest names in the game from Joe DiMaggio to Randy Johnson, you'd think that the collegiate game would garner a bit more attention.
This blog and its contributors traveled up and down the coast to observe some great contests the past few weekends and saw some unbelievable baseball. Unfortunately, most Californians missed out and so did the local press. The Pac 10, WAC, Big West and WCC conference teams play this country’s best baseball, but to the rest of the populous, it might as well have been rugby or cricket...Nobody showed up and nobody wrote about it in the local papers.
What a shame. We are not suggesting that the NCAA would ever make its decisions based on politics...but in this case we wouldn't blame them...It's no surprise that the West Coast gets snubbed every year come NCAA tourney selection time. It's possible that the NCAA figures nobody cares enough to even notice.
For instance, the SEC had 9 teams selected last season for the NCAA post season tournament. The SEC also averages well over 2 million fans per season. Those fans care about their teams a lot and they get rewarded in return. Many of those teams may not be as well deserving on the field to be in the tourney...but at the turnstiles...they are more than deserving to get that post season bid.
From San Diego to Davis, California, the state has teams that compete hard and turn out some of the best players to ever play this game. Year in and year out, some of the top players picked in the draft come out of the state of California. Fans should be lined up at the gate, papers should be gushing praise upon the programs, and talk shows should be dedicating at least an hour or more a week to talk about key match-ups and teams top prospects.
There isn't a basketball or football fan alive that isn't aware of their favorite college player’s stats and how he will rate in the upcoming draft. Baseball IS America's past time...you'd think that the same publicity would be given to this state too. Really there is no excuse for not attending a college game. The weather is perfect, the competition is outstanding, some of the stadiums are cozy and friendly...it's just that most people just don't know about it, because no one talks about the games, players or teams outside of Rivals and other Collegiate Baseball blogs.
In the SEC, baseball is treated as a major sport...mainly because in reality it is a major sport. Games are on the Ten O’clock news, front page of the sports page and the top of the hour on sports talk shows.
California teams and their athletic directors need to up the ante. This is partly the AD's fault. It's their responsibility to create the excitement, media attention and draw the crowds. It's really not that hard...Fresno State has no problems; Stanford promotes their program through a series of letter campaigns and a loyal Stanford alumni base.
Normally we would blame the low turnouts on the bad economy, but it has been that way for years at many of these schools. It’s time California discover the incredible talent that is literally in their backyards. Many of these schools are in small college towns hundreds of miles from any pro teams. UC Davis, Cal Poly, UC Santa Barbara, Sacramento State and Pacific, should draw just as well as Fresno. All of these teams are in college towns...hours from the nearest MLB franchise. To these cities...the college team is their baseball ticket to the big time...
That's how they treat baseball in the SEC and it works. Maybe California AD's need to take a fact finding trip to the south and learn a few new tricks of the trade. In our view...when you think of California, baseball comes to mind...it just needs to be more top of mind in our opinion.