Thursday, March 11, 2010
Can We Get A Mention?
The college baseball season is nearly a month old and I am still underwhelmed at the coverage that this game gets. Some say that the media won't cover college baseball now, because NCAA teams are in the middle of basketball play-offs and March Madness...but I can't accept that. Basketball coverage is as big now as it was in November during football season.
I just think that the media is lazy and very misinformed. They assume that nobody cares about college baseball and therefore, they don't cover it. When in fact, if they did cover college baseball, the interest would increase exponentially. They treat college baseball like some fringe sport like crew or women's field hockey. Of course it's neither...IT'S BASEBALL!
And this is my disconnect. College football thrives along with the NFL...College basketball is in many ways more popular than the NBA...Why wouldn't the very sport that defines America...Baseball...be as popular, or even more so than the Major League's? The logic is sound right? The game is not any different (except for the metal bats), the players are pro prospects, the teams that compete are in large conferences and many are in huge media markets. Sounds like a ratings dream right?
Funny...but when they do air college baseball, it does get good numbers. When the news media announce a weekend series, it boosts attendance. That media fueled attendance boost is an affirmation of a their effectiveness and subsequent ability to attract more media dollars. So why won't the media get involved? Why won't they announce an upcoming series. Why won't they promote the teams and the local players that make up the roster?
There is a built in fan base for most major baseball teams. Almost all the major market teams have many local high school players on their rosters. College teams from Miami, Orlando, Atlanta, Charlotte, Dallas, Houston, L.A. Phoenix, Nashville, Memphis, San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle and many more have tens of thousands of high school alumni that would make at least one game a year if they knew about one or more of the players on that college team had a kid from their high school on it. The thing is, they don't know...and, because we get a lot of our sports information from the traditional media...the same media that barely knows college baseball exists.
When you factor in the other fan bases of the college teams alumni and the everyday baseball fan, you potentially can get thousands of fans at each game...And, they do that at LSU, Texas, Rice, Arkansas, Arizona State, Ole Miss, South Carolina, Fresno State and many more. They engage their fans, keep them informed and get the entire community of sports fans up to date on their local favorite player. The 10,000 or so LSU fans that show up for each and every home game know each player's entire bio by heart. They know where he grew up, where he went to grade school and who is Little League coach was. They treat their college baseball team no different than their Top Ranked Football team. They realize that baseball is not a fringe sport...It is a MAJOR SPORT.
When will other markets across the country realize this...especially the California markets. It's a shame that the media fails to recognize college baseball. When the local L.A. media promoted the USC/UCLA contest the weekend before last, over 14,000 fans showed up at Dodger stadium. Without the promotion, only parents, friends and a few local students would have known about it. The California media and other states and markets around the country should take note...When you let them know...the fans will definitely show.