View Full Version : On the subject of baseball and the lack of fan support (among other things)..

08-23-2005, 12:42 PM
Tell me what you think..
From The Booth
See smaller UA sports for a change

By J. Ryan Casey
Arizona Daily Wildcat
August 23, 2005

Do not fear the beginning of a new academic year, but instead rejoice in its glory. With the onset of school comes the end of something even worse: Arizona's sports lull. For 68 days this summer no Wildcat took to his or her respective field in any sport.

While most believe the lull lasted from the (tragic) end of the 2004-2005 men's basketball season to the beginning of 2005 (and hopefully 2006) Wildcat football slate, it's simply not the case.

Contrary to popular belief, the world did not in fact end on March 26 in Rosemont, Ill. Neither did the Wildcat sports calendar.

Here's a scenario that's not too hard to imagine: Suppose the men's hoops team is consistently ranked in the top 10 nationally and has a legitimate shot at advancing deep into the NCAA Tournament. Easy to envision, right?

Now pretend that the team plays just across the street from McKale Center at Frank Sancet Stadium.

Remember baseball? It seemed to be the sport of choice across this campus toward the end of the 2003-2004 season, during the team's run in the College World Series. Not only were the Batcats this campus's team, but America was behind them as well. They were the lovable underdogs.

That fan enthusiasm continued through the beginning of last season, notably during the Texas series in early March, which saw Sancet overflow with Wildcat faithful.

The baseball team was ranked in the national top 10 for the majority of the season (reaching as high as No. 6), but sadly not many people seemed to remember baseball when the Batcats needed them most.

KAMP Sports had the luxury of calling a few late-season games, and at times, it seemed like those of us in the press box outnumbered the fans in the crowd.

This was a team that was fighting not only for its second straight berth into the postseason, but also for the chance to host a regional (and possibly a super-regional) game in the process. On top of everything the Wildcats hosted a three-game series on the final weekend of the season for the chance to win the Pacific 10 Conference (it did?).

Citing a lack of fan support - a mere 650 people attended the Sunday afternoon game against rival ASU - the Wildcats withdrew their bid to host a regional, and that lack of support ultimately cost the team a legitimate shot at a return trip to Omaha, Neb. As it happened, the team played its entire postseason on the road - a journey that abruptly ended June 7 against 2004 national champion Cal State-Fullerton.

Sadly, baseball is actually better off than most of the sports at this university.

On June 8, the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships began in Sacramento, Calif., with a number of Wildcats slated to compete.

The next day, Robert Cheseret took home his second national title in as many years, this time in the 10,000 meters, beating out a Pac-10 foe (Oregon's Galen Rupp). How many students have honestly heard of Cheseret, arguably this school's best-kept athletic secret?

The men's track and field team is yet another example of a campus squad that was ranked in the national top 10 throughout its season, yet received minimal attention.

After June 11, Arizona's athletic calendar looked like some of my tests during the school year: blank. We continue to be in the midst of the horrid summer months, in which there are few Wildcat athletes in sight. When's it going to end?

Sept. 2? Try again.

Though football head coach Mike Stoops and his boys do start their season on a Friday instead of the more typical Saturday, Arizona Athletics officially kicks off the 2005-06 athletic year a week earlier - Friday, to be specific.

Recalling our earlier scenario of a nationally-ranked team contending well into its postseason, let's add a few other twists.

Suppose the team wins its first ever Pac-10 championship on the heels of a record-setting season (let's say, breaking 20 team and 11 individual records), guided there by its Pac-10 and National Coach of the Year. Presume the team bettered its previous wins mark more than twice over. Excited yet?

It happened - last season, in fact - when head coach Dan Tobias led the Wildcat women's soccer team to the NCAA Championships for the first time in the program's history.

When their season starts at 7 p.m. Friday against Missouri at Murphey Stadium, there will be one question in my mind: Will the enthusiasm surrounding this team carry over throughout this entire season? Or will it fizzle out like last season's baseball interest? For the fans' sake, I hope it's the former.

Everyone can go to a football game - as well you should - some can go to a basketball game (tickets permitting, of course), but it takes a die-hard Wildcat fan to support the smaller sports.

Attend a tennis match at the Robson Tennis Center, or head to McKale to cheer on a team (volleyball) that doesn't start with "men's" or end with "–asketball."

Soak up the sun at Drachman Stadium, or head to one of the Hillenbrands (Aquatic Center or Stadium) - the track team, swim team and softball team would be eternally grateful for your support.

Make the next fight for a student section be at Sancet. Pack it to capacity and show the athletic department that if Tucson were to host a regional, Wildcat fans would turn out in force.

Not once, not twice, but consistently.

See you Friday.

J. Ryan Casey is a journalism junior and the sports director at KAMP Student Radio. His radio show can be heard Wednesdays at 6 p.m. on 1570 AM or at kamp.arizona.edu.


08-23-2005, 08:11 PM
Wow, excellent article. Hopefully it will get some butts in the seats.