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Saturday, March 5, 2011

College Soccer Needs a Facelift

Originally posted Dec. 13, 2008

It's a shame that the NCAA College Cup is not more publicized and marketed to the sporting public.  College soccer is exciting, and it should get more attention.

The NCAA is missing an opportunity with NCAA soccer.  The 'Final Four' in NCAA basketball and the 'Frozen Four' in hockey have achieved much more fanfare.  The basketball championships are obviously huge and have been huge for a while.  The hockey championships are getting bigger every year and are sellouts (on the men's side) for sure.

NCAA soccer needs a calendar adjustment, a marketing plan, and a promotional facelift. 

The tournament should probably not end when college semesters are out on winter break.  Also, the NCAA and ESPN should collaborate in order to do something with the College Cup during the MLS season so that it can be cross-promoted, and maybe make up some nifty name like the 'Ultimate Four' for the semifinals games.

What do you think should be the official nickname of the College Cup semifinals?  Send in your responses via comments.  Another example might be the College Cup Core Four.

Seeing the empty stands Friday at Frisco Field in Dallas when the best and brightest of college soccer are at their pinnacle event is embarrassing for the sport.  There needs to be a solution for getting the public out to a great stadium to see 2 games.  This should not be a hard sell. 

Tomorrow's final should be a great game, but, unfortunately, with the stands empty, it gives the appearance that soccer is not supported as a college sport in the U.S.

2 comments:

  1. The NCAA system is a peculiarly American phenomenon which really has no counterpart anywhere in the World. In Europe, good players go directly to the Club Academies where they essentially learn Soccer full time until they are either weeded out or go on to turn Pro. In South America, the Universities actually field full-on Pro Franchises. Any actual inter-scholastic play there is merely incidental. An afterthought, if that. I don't really know if there is any solution to College Soccer. The fan bases are narrow, if not downright Parochial, and Soccer (off campus) is completely overshadowed by Football (Gridiron) and Basketball. Throw in the traditional Baseball, and you can see how Soccer gets short shrift. Hell, I even think that Rugby and Lacrosse get more play off campus than Soccer, as they are more exotic, higher-scoring and get more airtime because of it. I think that where the NCAA has a major contribution to make is in Women's Soccer. I think that a major Women's tournament could be a TV event. I think that the overcrowded sporting calendar, the MLS, the shadow of Football and Basketball, and the fact that the Universities are not really even an incubator of talent for the MLS all work against NCAA men's soccer. I don't see any solution to the problem. I just think that NCAA Soccer's existence is an unnecessary appendage and will always be not much more than that. Can you name the NCAA Soccer Champion for 2012? Neither can I.
    AJ.

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  2. The NCAA Soccer tournament is not a revenue producer for the Universities or the NCAA, so it will continue to get short shrift, no attention and be relegated to second-rate facilities, second rate coaching, etc. The answer is this; allow the Universities to link themselves with Pro Franchises and make the teams "academy" teams tied directly to major clubs. Allow the "pro-track" academy players to earn a stipend from their clubs and play alongside the "student-athlete" scholarship players. Once this happens, THEN an MVP, a Golden Boot, an NCAA Championship becomes a resume enhancer and can get some attention. I see no other way of making the NCAA relevant in Soccer.

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