After three years of covering college sports and 22 years of watching them, I am sad to say that I no longer respect the sanctity of big powerhouse programs. These financial nightmares do nothing more than destroy the student-athlete program and legacy.
I love the small programs. While I have always cheered for the underdog when I don’t have other interests in mind, I respect them even more for doing what they do on minuscule budget compared to the monster programs. Mercer does not have the resources like a Florida, Georgia, or Texas, but it did not stop them from winning a postseason crown this year in the second biggest sport in the country (men’s basketball).
I feel that the NCAA is not doing its job effectively, because if it were, policies would be in place that would prevent early departure from college for a professional contract. Student is being lost too frequently in favor of athlete, and it is ill-preparing them for a job in the real world following sports.
At any rate, college sports still are incredibly more thrilling and exciting than professional sports in America. I really hope that you have been able to grasp the excitement and thrill that I have for these games. It’s a great environment that we have here in this campus for sports to take off, because we’ve seen our campus rally together for events, and this is part of the reason I find myself so drawn to cover collegiate sports.
While my time as a journalist is at an end (for now), the magic and spirit that comes from this will never dwindle in me. I only pray that I could get you as fired up about any of the random sporting events I wrote about. I know I love soccer, really live and breathe it, but nothing measures up to the drama of college sports.
We can complain about student attendance all we want, but until we consistently win games, we are fighting a losing battle. It’s nice to see Bears winning, and it’ll breed a crowd. Most teams that have to leave locations or have poor attendances are focusing on the wrong things. The lack of hockey teams in Atlanta are an exception because there aren’t enough hockey fans to support a team, but more often that not, teams have poor attendance due to poor performance.
Instead of focusing on flashy incentives and programs to boost attendance and a crowd to gain a true home court advantage, these professional sports teams need to take a cue from small college programs that win. Focus on building a coaching and support staff that will prep athletes to perform at their highest level, because that breeds winning. Mercer has not relied on home court advantage to win; they’ve relied on a developing a great athletics program to support the programs across the board.
College sports have awesome systems to get players in the best form possible because they aren’t franchises that go for profit (even though several make profit), and professionals need to follow this. Go watch schools that host tournaments, because those are so much more exciting than the long and drawn out professional postseason series.
If only they relied on a great staff as opposed to dishing out more money, it could work for all franchises. We would not see a 30-team league dominated by the same few squads.