Wednesday, December 17, 2008

An Open Letter to ESPN, Fox Sports, Versus, etc

If you know someone who works in the radio or television sports industry please pass this post along. If you know others who may be interested in pursuing this cause please pass this post on. This is a letter to the programmers who decide what we the sports fan watch on Saturday afternoons.

To Whom it May Concern,

We, the sports fans, have been more than pleased with the advent of more sports programming. Nothing is better than spending a Saturday, and I mean all day Saturday, than watching College Football. We realize we have it much better than our Fathers, and their Fathers before them who did not have access to Football, Basketball, Baseball, and Hockey Packages available for purchase. I am firmly aware that I am able to view the Golf channel when I want to watch a classic Golf Tournament and that I can choose between a multitude of games on TV.

With that said, I have a concern that needs to be addressed. College Football (in my opinion and many others like me) is better than the professional brand, and that March Madness is more exciting than the NBA Finals. Why then is it almost impossible to find any coverage of College Baseball. This is an issue that needs a resolution. With multiple ESPN channels and FSN networks that cover all major markets and regions, why am I still left searching, almost completely unsuccessfully, for College Baseball Coverage.

The 2008 season was a progressive step in College Baseball coverage. ESPN had occasional pieces covering the games. This was in large part due to the fact that ESPN Football Analyst Mark Schlereth, had a son (Daniel) playing Division I Baseball at the University of Arizona. Unfortunately though, a large portion of this coverage was not of the games themselves but of Mark on the road with Daniel and the Wildcats. This was a great segment, one I tuned into when I saw it and scoured the ESPN homepage for vid clips. In contrast, however, that was the majority of their coverage.

The programmers at the various Media outlets can say that it's just the way it is. College Baseball doesn't garner the national media attention that other sports like football and basketball do. To that I say, how can it gain any kind of following when there is no coverage to begin with. A good portion of avid sports fans who commit hours of their day to ESPN or Fox Sports, can probably rattle off all sorts of opinions about Plaxico Burress, Terrell Owens, and Tommy Tuberville's Mom. But that's because those are the stories that we read online and watch over and over and over again on ESPN.

Many of those fans probably hear about teams like Rice or Cal State Fullerton and think they are schools without any sports dominance due to their usual lack of appearance in the Football and Basketball Championship pictures. But both have been in Omaha 6 times over the last 10 years.

By comparison Football powerhouses like Florida, LSU, Miami, Texas, and many more have only been to the BCS Bowls 5 or less times over the same period. And in recent memory (06, 07, 08, and 09) those have held the top 10 teams.

College Baseball has what everyone is looking for. Teams don't typically schedule cupcakes since strength of schedule isn't as highly regarded. Small market teams aren't left out despite quality records. And they have the perfect playoff system in place. Not to mention the National Championships in Omaha are the draw, not the Bowl/Final Four atmosphere.

ESPN took a gamble about 5 years ago and began airing the World Series of Poker, which eventually spread from the Main Event to all of the different events. The post-season is still played, if you can find it, on TV. But where do we get the regular season updates. There is so much more to the Baseball season than Omaha.

There is no tab on the ESPN homepage that links to College Baseball coverage, and the ESPNU tab's top links are football and basketball recruiting. In fact, to find baseball coverage on the site you have to click the More link to get anything. And once there all you see about Baseball is this:

To the programmers at ESPN, Fox Sports, et al. I implore you. Cover College Baseball. At this point you would have pretty exclusive access. Fox Sports Arizona. Why not cover baseball in the Spring and pick up a few games. Last year the only games I recall seeing were the UA vs ASU game, and in that instance there was only one of them. Can we please get some College Baseball coverage. Look what happened when MMA started getting attention. And Baseball is America's past time.