Pinning down success: A wrestler from Pioneer High School competing in a recent tournament at Canton High School.
Local wrestlers react to news that ancient sport may lose its standing
Photos and Words By ERIC WADE | Staff Writer
Middle school girls wearing singlets beneath their warm-ups shared the same emotions of shock and anguish as boys sweating it out on the mats: The International Olympic Committee’s decision to eliminate wrestling as a competitive sport in the 2020 Olympics is outrageous – and wrong.
“I think it’s stupid,” said Kaitlin Petit, 14. “Wrestling is a tough sport and it should be in the Olympics.”
“And it’s one of the oldest sports,” said her friend, Anna Jewel, 13, finishing Petit’s thought.
Both girls are students at Goodrich Middle School and competitors in Michigan Women’s Wrestling.
With the exception of the 1900 Olympic Games, wrestling has been a core sport in the Games since the inaugural event in 1896. Now, its future is in doubt, and local wrestlers and their coaches are speaking out.
At a recent high school wrestling tournament, Keegan Powers, 17, who competes for Pioneer High School, and Alex Cornelius, 17, who represents Saline High School, had similar reactions as the girls.
“I think it’s a terrible choice,” Cornelius said.
“I think it’s ridiculous,” Powers added.
Joe McFarland, head coach for the University of Michigan’s wrestling team, said he felt that FILA (the acronym for wrestling’s Olympic governing body) wasn’t doing enough to assure the sport’s prominence.
“I think (FILA) got caught sleeping to be honest with you,” McFarland said.
He may have an argument. At the same meeting wrestling was dropped in a secret ballot, the same voters supported continuation of the much less prominent modern pentathlon, which combines shooting, horseback-riding, running, swimming and fencing.
Let’s Get Physical: Young women warming up before a recent Michigan Women’s Wrestling tournament at Goodrich High School.
Raphaël Martinetti, the acting president of FILA, resigned after the IOC made the decision to remove wrestling from its list of core sports. FILA issued a statement saying it takes its responsibly very seriously, and as a sport it is willing to undertake all the necessary steps for their sport to remain on the core program of the Olympic Games.
The IOC hasn’t made any comments on why wrestling was removed, but McFarland feels that as a community there wasn’t enough lobbying for the sport.
“We weren’t doing things that other sports and other governing bodies were doing to keep their programs included in the games or to get them as part of the games,” McFarland said.
Despite all of the confusion and anguish about the IOC’s decision, Taylor Massa, 19, a wrestler for the University of Michigan and an Olympic hopeful, remains confident that wrestling has a future in the Olympics.
“I almost think they did that on purpose because wrestling will be able to push back in, versus if they put one of the other sports they might not be able to pull back in,” Massa said.
Wrestling still has a chance to be in the 2020 Olympics. It now joins the seven shortlisted sports including baseball/softball, karate, roller sports, sport climbing, squash, wakeboarding and wushu, a form of Chinese martial arts, competing for inclusion as an additional sport, according to the IOC.
Chris Ebrom, 26, an assistant coach for Saline High School, feels that wrestling can fight its way back in.
“I think turning this decision around will need showing what impact it has on youth and what impact it has on kids turning into adults and the development for more than just wrestling,” Ebrom said, “but the development of how a kid matures from a sport like wrestling.”
The transformation of youth into dedicated and responsible adults is a part of what the wrestling community considers a great aspect of the sport. Jahi HIllard, 18, a wrestler for Pioneer High School, credits wrestling for much of his success.
“Wrestling was a big part of my life, and it still is,” Hillard said. “It’s helped me develop as a young man, and I believe that I wouldn’t have prospered the way I have without wrestling.”
If wrestling doesn’t make it past the short list of events into the games, Massa would feel disappointment, but would still compete.
“I would still train,” said Massa. “I would just be training for the championships and that would be the next biggest thing.”
Wrestling doesn’t have a professional outlet, but some consider that taking wrestling out of the Olympics could impact youth.
“I think it’s a big hit for the youth. Even though it’s not directly impacting them now, it will in the future,” Ebrom said. “In other sports like football and basketball, you have the NFL and the NBA, but for wrestling there is not a real professional wrestling league and the top echelon of the sport is the Olympics.”
For McFarland, the greatest thing about the Olympic wrestling team is that competitors do it from their hearts and not for the money.
“The fact that these guys aren’t professionals, that they’re doing it for the sport, that’s one thing that I thought was neat about our Olympic team,” McFarland said. “These guys aren’t getting paid multimillion dollar contracts.
“These guys in wrestling that are representing the United States have put their lives and families on hold while they’re continuing to chase that dream, so to see that possibly come to an end is disappointing.”
Photo courtesy of MCT Campus Ravens head coach, John Harbaugh (left) and San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh chat at mid-field prior to their game on Thursday, November 24, 2011, in Baltimore, Maryland. It's the first time in NFL history that two brothers have opposed each other as coaches.
Pioneer graduates to clash in Super Bowl XLVII
By JOSEPH TWIST | Staff Writer
SUPER BOWL XLVII
Baltimore Ravens vs. San Francisco 49ers
Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, LA.
Sunday, Feb. 3, 6:30 p.m.
Baltimore Ravens (10-6)
Offense: WR Anquan Boldin leads
all players in postseason receiving
yards with 276 and has three touchdowns
Defense: LB Ray Lewis leads all players
in the postseason with 44 tackles
San Francisco 49ers (11-4-1)
Offense: QB Colin Kaepernick is starting Super Bowl XLVII in only his 10th career NFL start, and has accounted for 698 total yards and five touchdowns in the postseason
Defense: LB Aldon Smith was second in the NFL during the regular season with 19.5 sacks
San Francisco: 23 Baltimore: 20
The Super Bowl this year will feature a bit more local flavor than before. Brothers, Jim and John Harbaugh, former students of Ann Arbor Pioneer High School, will be coaching versus each other for the first time in Super Bowl history.
It will mark the first time that a sibling rivalry will take place in any professional sports championship game. The brothers faced each other once before, last season on Thanksgiving night. Older brother John, 50, and his Baltimore Ravens beat younger brother Jim, 49, and his San Francisco 49ers, 16-6.
Jim attended the University of Michigan from 1983-1986 and played quarterback. John attended Miami University in Ohio and played defensive back. Their father, Jack, coached at the University of Michigan under Bo Schembechler from 1973-1979.
Another significant angle to this title game: Future NFL Hall of Fame linebacker Ray Lewis will be playing his final game in Super Bowl XLVII. Lewis was the MVP for the Ravens in the franchise’s first championship in Super Bowl XXXV.
Lewis has had an amazing career, earning NFL Defensive Player of the Year honors twice, while being named to the Pro Bowl 13 times.
The Ravens came into the playoffs with not much fanfare. They lost four of their last five games entering the postseason. But a 33-14 victory against the defending champion New York Giants in Week 16 showed that they could still beat anyone. The Ravens are led on offense by quarterback Joe Flacco, who just set the record for most playoff wins on the road with six. Veterans Ed Reed and Lewis are two elite defenders who make defense key to the team’s success.
But the San Francisco 49ers have been a very good team the entire season. Many questioned Coach Jim Harbaugh when he benched starting quarterback Alex Smith midseason in favor of inexperienced Colin Kaepernick. The move paid off, though, as Kaepernick rushed for an NFL quarterback record 181 yards versus
Green Bay in his first career start in the playoffs.
The 49ers also feature an outstanding defense, which makes them a very balanced team.
Obviously, the players on the field will decide the outcome of this game. But the sibling rivalry playing out on the sidelines will make this year’s Super Bowl a game for the ages – and a lot more interesting for fans around Ann Arbor, many of whom can remember the Harbaugh boys, when they were boys.
He Shoots, He Scores: Players from oppositing teams race towards a loose puck in the 2011 tournment.(Andrew Brodie WASHTENAW VOICE)
High-sticking: During a break, a young hockey fan gives spectators a peek at a future star.(Andrew Brodie WASHTENAW VOICE)
LELAND DAWSON | Staff Writer
Pond-hockey teams will gather in Whitmore Lake to compete for a chance to win an all-expense paid trip to Finland – and through their slap shots and body checks – help out a deserving charity.
The Michigan Pond Hockey Classic, scheduled for Jan. 25-27, will feature a wide variety of teams for three wild days of 4-on-4 hockey. But it’s not just about the competition on the ice at Mac’s Marina on Whitmore Lake; charity plays a large part.
The Michigan Pond Hockey Sports Charity will receive all proceeds from the event.
Pond Hockey Classic
What: Michigan Pond
Where: Mac’s Marina, 9876
“They’re a local charity, helping kids and parents who can’t afford the sports equipment or fees (associated with playing),” said Anne Duffy, the public relations and communications director of the tournament. “And it’s for all sports, not just hockey.”
There’s a lot of pent-up excitement for this year’s event, which was canceled last year because warm temperatures prevented the formation of safe ice conditions on the lake.
The rules of the tournament are simple: teams are made up of a maximum of seven players, with only four per team competing on the 75-by-150-feet rinks. Games are 30-minutes long, there are no icing or offside calls, and no goalies or permanent defenders are allowed. With these rules, spectators can expect some high-scoring, fast-action games.
One division from the Classic will be playing in the U.S. qualifier of the Red Bull Open Ice International World Championship Pond Hockey Tournament, and the winners of Sunday’s championship game in that division will earn a free trip to Helsinki, Finland, paid for by Red Bull. There, they will have the opportunity to play the European champion for the World Championship.
Those wishing to do more than just watch are welcome to volunteer. This weekend people will be needed to cut the rinks for the games and during the tournament volunteers can help as cleanup crews and scorekeepers.
The Washtenaw Community College Sports office has released the winter semester sports schedule. All interested students must be registered for at least three credit hours during the term and have at least a 2.0 grade point average.
Coed ice hockey, located at the Veteran’s Ice Arena, will have tryouts on Jan. 21 at 7 p.m. After that, practices will be held on Mondays and Thursdays with competitions on Sundays and Wednesdays. Students must be at least 18 years old and need to bring their WCC ID card.
Women’s basketball tryouts will be held on Jan. 15 from 9:30-11 p.m. Practices begin at 9:30 p.m. on every Tuesday and competitions are held on Thursdays at 7 p.m. or possibly later. All events are held at the WCC Health and Fitness Center. Students must be at least 16, with a WCC ID card.
Men’s basketball, which will hold its events at the WCC Health and Fitness Center, has two tryouts. Both are from 9:30-11 p.m. with the first on Jan. 16 and the second on Jan. 23. Students must register in room 116 of the Student Center before the tryouts. Practices will be held on Tuesdays and Wednesdays beginning at 9:30 p.m., while competitions are on Mondays and start at 7 p.m. or later. Students must be at least 16, with a WCC ID card.
Coed wrestling tryouts will be on Jan. 22 and 24, 7-9 p.m. Practices are on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 7-9 p.m. Matches will be on the weekends. All wrestling events occur in the Police Academy Training Room in the Morris Lawrence building. Students must be at least 18, with a WCC ID card.
The coed Running/Walking Club will have its first meeting on Jan. 28 at 4 or 5 p.m. in SC 116. Students have the option of attending either time. After that, practices will be held on Mondays and Thursdays at the same times, with competitions on the weekend for those that are interested.
Tennis events will be located at the Chippewa Tennis Center. Participants should register between Jan. 14 and 25 in SC 116 as spaces are limited. Practice is on Mondays and Thursdays from Feb. 4 through Feb. 28, 9-10 p.m.
Coed bowling will meet at Colonial Lanes every Friday beginning Feb. 8 and ending March 1. Events will begin at 5:30 p.m. and students must register between Jan. 28 and Feb. 6 in SC 116.
Community Room Tournaments continue this semester, with events being held Monday through Thursday for the weeks of Jan. 14 to 17, 28 to 31, Feb. 4 to 7 and 11 to 14. The Jan. events will go from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., and the Feb. events are from 6-7 p.m. Tournaments include table tennis, air hockey, foosball, and billiards. On applicable Wednesdays, only a dart tournament will be held in SC 116.
Early Sunday morning the NHL Players Association and the owners of the NHL have reached a tentative agreement to salvage the rest of the season at the last minute. This comes as great news to me and all the diehard hockey fans that have been waiting for this since the season was locked out on Sept. 15.
This last-minute save comes just in time, with football season ending. It’s something to watch as a filler until baseball returns in the spring.
The NHL’s return is great for everyone that is involved in the sport. I am referring to all people who depend on the games, from the bar owners to ticket-scanners to the folks who pour the beer and make the popcorn at Joe Louis Arena every bit as much as the players, coaches and management of the teams.
The new collective bargaining agreement, which took 113 days to reach, needed to be ratified by both sides before the season could start – but it is in everyone’s best interest to put this brutally ugly chapter behind them and drop the damned puck.
Players have been keeping busy staying in shape to play by holding workouts on their own. Some played with minor leagues, and many others played in professional leagues throughout Europe.
Among them was Detroit Red Wings center Pavel Datsyuk, who left his Central Red Army club fans in Russia by scoring a shootout goal that lifted the CSKA to a 3-2 victory.
After watching the video of it online, I can’t wait to start seeing him and his Detroit teammates playing again. And if it’s anything like the last time the NHL lost nearly a half season to a work stoppage in 1995, this could be a good open for Detroit.
You can see the shootout goal below
In a 50-game season in 1995, the Red Wings advanced to the Stanley Cup finals – when they were swept by New Jersey. This year? The so-called experts agree there’s no guarantee Detroit will even make the post-season – unlike the last 21 straight years.
Either way, hockey is back whether you like it or not, and it’s about time.
The bowl season is upon us and three schools from the state of Michigan have made it to a bowl game this year. Here is a preview of the match-ups:
South Carolina Gamecocks vs. Michigan Wolverines
Jan. 1, 1 p.m., Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Fla.
Overview: Michigan came into the season with high expectations after winning the Sugar Bowl last year and starting the season with a Top 10 ranking. Not winning the Big Ten Championship and only garnering an Outback Bowl appearance has to be a disappointment. South Carolina won 10 games in the Southeastern Conference and its only two losses came on the road to Florida and LSU in tough environments.
Denard Robinson will play his last game in a Michigan uniform. Question is, will he start as QB or play RB/WR as he has the last couple games while battling an arm injury? Devin Gardner has been more than serviceable as a QB and is looking to solidify himself as the starter next season.
South Carolina lost RB Marcus Lattimore to a devastating leg injury earlier in the season, but QB Connor Shaw has completed 67 percent of his passes this season and has plenty of weapons at wide receiver to test the Michigan secondary.
South Carolina also has one of the best defensive players in the country in defensive end Jadeveon Clowney and will be tough to stop, even for Michigan All-American left tackle Taylor Lewan.
Players to watch:
UM: QB Devin Gardner passed for more than 1,000 yards and rushed for seven touchdowns.
SCAR: QB Connor Shaw passed for 17 touchdowns and rushed for more than 500 yards.
UM: LB Jake Ryan led the team with 84 tackles and forced 4 fumbles.
SCAR: DE JaDeveon Clowney led the team with 13 sacks and 21.5 tackles for loss.
Prediction: SC 27, U-M 20
Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl
TCU Horned Frogs vs. Michigan State Spartans
Dec. 29, 10:15 p.m., Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe, Ariz.
Overview: Both teams enter the matchup with losing records in their respective conferences. TCU went 4-5 in its first season as a member of the Big 12 conference. The Horned Frogs did manage to beat Texas on the road and won a double overtime thriller against West Virginia. They play extremely well on the road posting a 5-1 record away from Fort Worth.
Michigan State started the season hoping to play for a second straight Big Ten Championship game appearance, but after an early season loss to Notre Dame the Spartans never seemed to get back on track. A scare from Eastern Michigan University and a loss to arch-rival Michigan proved just how much the Spartans missed QB Kirk Cousins, who graduated and moved on to the NFL. RB Le’Veon Bell will need to be the difference-maker for the Spartans.
Players to watch:
MSU: RB Le’Veon Bell accounted for more than 1,800 yards and had 12 touchdowns.
TCU: QB Trevone Boykin had 18 touchdowns and rushed for more than 500 yards.
MSU: DE William Gholston tied for team lead with 12 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks.
TCU: CB Jason Verrett led Big 12 conference with six interceptions and had 14 pass breakups.
Prediction: MSU 16, TCU 10
Little Caesars Pizza Bowl
Western Kentucky Hilltoppers vs. Central Michigan Chippewas
Dec. 26, 7:30 p.m., Ford Field, Detroit
Overview: Each team had a quality win over a bigger conference opponent this season. CMU beat Iowa in overtime 32-31, only to lose five of its next six games. WKU beat in-state rival Kentucky in overtime 32-31 as well to match CMU’s upset win in the year. WKU has lost three of its last four games entering the bowl season. CMU is the hotter team winning four of its last five games to finish the season with the one loss coming to in-state rival Western Michigan.
Players to watch:
WKU: RB Antonio Andrews leads FBS in all-purpose yards per game with 248.1.
CMU: RB Zurlon Tipton had 19 touchdowns and averaged more than six yards per carry.
WKU: DB Jonathan Dowling led Sun Belt Conference with six interceptions.
CMU: DE Caesar Rodriguez led the team with four sacks and 8.5 tackles for loss.
Every Sunday for the past few months, football fans all across the country gather in front of their televisions or at stadiums to root for their favorite NFL team. Each play is treated as a matter of life or death, with those same fans hanging on to the outcome of even the most meaningless of plays. We idolize those who make great plays and chastise the weak.
Sadly, over the course of the last two weekends the game has seen real matters of life and death when two players died and another is accused of intoxication manslaughter.
During the early morning of Dec. 1 police say Kansas City Chiefs player Jovan Belcher shot and killed his girlfriend, Kasandra Perkins, who was also the mother of Belcher’s 3-month-old daughter. From there, Belcher drove to the Chiefs practice facility and killed himself in front of the team’s coach and general manager.
A week later, Dallas Cowboys Josh Brent and Jerry Brown were in a one-car accident that claimed the life of Brown. Brent, who was driving the car was under the influence of alcohol, police said.
In both cases, the deaths occurred on a Saturday morning, a full day before their respective teams were set to play games. However, both the Chiefs and Cowboys played those games, showing little or no consideration for the lives of those affected.
Sports fans, myself included, have a tendency to take these games far more seriously than we should, seemingly even more than the players and coaches themselves. We should know better. However, in these cases, the players, coaches and owners showed a shocking lack of humanity in their decision to play the games as scheduled.
My experience with professional athletes is limited, but nonetheless has opened my eyes to the fact that most of these guys are selfish, heartless, carefree individuals who think that there are no consequences for their actions.
Belcher had no right to do what he did, and because of his actions a young girl will grow up without a mother or father. Brent had no business behind the wheel and, according to witnesses, had to be coaxed into helping remove Brown’s body from the burning car as he screamed for help.
So the next time Calvin Johnson drops a pass, remember to let it go.
These sorts of tragedies should serve as stark realizations that these players we watch should not be idolized, nor should we treat those Sunday afternoon events as anything more than what they are: games.
After surviving a scare last weekend from the unranked Arkansas Razorbacks, the University of Michigan men’s basketball team improved to 9-0 on the young season, the team’s best start since the 1988-89 campaign.
The win also marked head coach John Beilein’s 100th career win as head coach at Michigan.
“I’ve been fortunate to be at a lot of good places,” Beilein said. “I certainly hope the next 100 at Michigan are easier than the first 100. Those first three years were a difficult transition for us.”
The last time the program started a season 9-0, the Wolverines went on to win the national championship behind the sharpshooting of Glen Rice. Still, Beilein is hesitant to make comparisons to that team.
“We’re taking them a game at a time. It’s just great for us that we’re getting great crowds,” Beilein said. “It’s a good start. We’ve got 22 more miles left to run in this marathon.”
Michigan will host Eastern Michigan and Central Michigan at the Crisler Center this month, before opening Big Ten play on Jan. 3 against Northwestern.
It’s been a year full of highs and lows for sports fans in Michigan. Fans witnessed one of their own accomplish a once-in-a-lifetime feat and the departure of a once-in-a-lifetime player.
With the calendar year coming to an end, The Voice takes a look at the Top-10 sports moments of 2012.
1. Miguel Cabrera wins the Triple Crown en route to MVP season
It had been 45 years since Boston’s Carl Yastrzemski led the league in batting average, home runs and runs batted in, and many believed it would never happen again. But Detroit Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera defied the odds and turned in one of the greatest individual seasons in baseball history, batting .330, with 44 home runs and 139 RBI. Cabrera was named the American League’s Most Valuable Player in recognition for his accomplishment.
2. Nicklas Lidstrom retires after 20 years with Red Wings
Known as “The Perfect Human,” seven-time Norris Trophy winner (as the NHL’s best defenseman) Nicklas Lidstrom retired on May 31 after 20 seasons with the Detroit Red Wings. Lidstrom won four Stanley Cups with the Wings and was the 2002 Conn Smyth winner as the playoffs’ most valuable player. Arguably the best defensemen ever to play the game, Lidstrom was also the first European-born-and-trained player to captain a Stanley Cup-winning team, doing so in 2008.
3. Tigers swept in the World Series
Momentum seemed to favor the Detroit Tigers as they headed into the 2012 World Series against the San Francisco Giants. But after sweeping the New York Yankees in the American League Championship Series, the Tigers fell flat against the Giants, losing four straight games. It marked the second appearance by the Tigers in the World Series since 2006.
4. Spartans, Wolverines take a step back after spectacular 2011 football seasons
The year got off to a great start for both the Michigan Wolverines and the Michigan State Spartans. While the Spartans took down Georgia in the Outback Bowl, Michigan won its first BCS bowl Game, beating Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl. However, as the 2012 season progressed, neither team lived up to the preseason hype. U-M finished the year 8-4, while MSU ended at 6-6.
5. Michigan Stadium announced as host of Winter Classic
After setting a world-record attendance figure for the 2010 “Big Chill in the Big House,” Michigan Stadium was selected to host the 2013 NHL Winter Classic to be played between the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman made it clear during the Feb. 9 announcement that the league was looking to break the world record of 104,073 set during the Big Chill.
6. Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium cancelled
Nearly nine months after announcing the 2013 Winter Classic would take place at Michigan Stadium, the NHL cancelled the game on Nov. 2 after failing to reach a labor agreement with its players association. Because no agreement could be reached, the league cancelled the game in order to save on expenses it would have taken had it waited any longer. The 2014 Winter Classic is expected to take place at Michigan Stadium. Meantime, the city of Ann Arbor lost out on an estimated $14 million of potential revenue.
7. Detroit Lions once again among NFL’s worst
In January the Detroit Lions played in their first playoff game since 1999. After going 10-6 in the regular season, they were defeated by the New Orleans Saints in the first round, but fans saw their efforts as a giant step forward for the franchise. But as has been the case for nearly half a century, the Lions ruined that progress this fall as the team failed to not only make the playoffs, but may finish with the NFC’s worst record. Lowlights include losing to the Tennessee Titans and a string of three consecutive losses in which the team was winning in the final minutes, before choking away the win.
8. Tigers sweep the Yankees in spectacular fashion
The Tigers entered the ALCS having survived a scare from the Oakland Athletics in the opening round. Maybe that was the motivation the team needed, as it would go on to not only beat the Yankees to make it to the World Series for the second time in seven seasons, but did so in one of the most dominating performances in MLB history. The Yankees scored just six runs in the four games and only two runs over the final three games. The Bronx bombers never held a lead in the series and as a team batted a paltry .157 against powerful Detroit pitching that disappeared in the World Series.
9. Denard Robinson misses time for Wolverines
The most dynamic player to ever call Michigan Stadium home gave fans a scare this season when he was injured during a game against Nebraska on Oct. 27. An elbow injury caused Robinson to miss the second half of that game and the next two games. Robinson returned in time for the team’s final two games, but did not throw the ball as a result of the injury. Instead he lined up as a running back and as a wide receiver in a variety of formations.
10. Brandon Inge released by Tigers
Tigers third baseman Brandon Inge saw his 11-year career with the Tigers end on April 26, when the team decided to finally release him. Supporters lauded his efforts and hard-working mentality, while critics pointed out his declining skills and poor hitting. An All-Star in 2009, Inge was the longest-tenured Tiger prior to being released. He caught on with Oakland, and was instrumental in helping the A’s get into the postseason.
The Big Ten Conference portrays college athletics as being about honoring legends and building leaders both on and off the athletic field.
But when the Big Ten announced recently that the University of Maryland and the Rutgers University would be joining the conference in 2014, it was clear what the conference and college athletics are really about: money.
By adding Rutgers and Maryland, the Big Ten can now tap into the powerful television markets of New York City and Washington D.C. The Big Ten sees these additions as a way to reach millions of viewers with the conference’s television network.
That logic is failed, however, when looking at what really generates ratings for the television network. Just because you can potentially get into more living rooms by offering the network to large population, doesn’t mean they’ll tune it.
Misogynistic though it may sound, the only two sports that generate money and television rating are of course football and men’s basketball. I’m sorry, but no sizeable audience in the country will be clamoring to watch Iowa take on Indiana in women’s water polo.
Unfortunately, neither one of the incoming schools have much to offer in terms of improving the quality of play in basketball or football.
Rutgers has played in seven bowl games in 140 years of football and hasn’t made the NCAA basketball tournament since 1991. Maryland football at least won a conference title recently, having claimed the ACC championship in 2001 and was the NCAA national basketball champion in 2002. But that success has tapered off as the Terrapins have not enjoyed a Sweet 16 appearance since 2003.
Not exactly a reputation that screams “must-see TV.”
If the Big Ten wants to gets bigger ratings and reach more people, maybe an expansion that included Oklahoma or Oklahoma State would make more sense. When top-tier teams play, people from across the country will tune in, regardless of regional affiliation.
Expansion has become an unfortunate part of the college game, but TV markets can only do so much. Instead of using expansion as a way to strengthen the foundation of the conference, the Big Ten followed the almighty dollar. And in the process ended any talk of being true “legends and leaders.”