Chronicle Editorial: More to March Madness than just men’s basketball

By on April 12, 2006

When one thinks of March Madness, even before the millions of brackets are filled out, fans instantly focus on the men’s NCAA basketball championship, but that isn’t the only tournament going on. Three weeks ago for Duke vs. LSU, CBS had an 8.5 rating that got as high as 9.7 in the 9 p.m. hour, which means 14-15% of televisions turned on watched CBS for men’s basketball.

Everybody either fills out a bracket or knows someone who does, but how many people fill out a bracket for the women’s championship or the college hockey championship?

The problem is the networks just do not pay enough attention to these other championships or leagues. Every night of the week during the college basketball season, sports fans can always see a men’s game.

However, a women’s game or hockey game is very hard to find. If fans do not have NESN, YES, MSG, ESPNU or CSTV then they will almost never see a college hockey game.

Fans turned to MSG for the Quinnipiac women’s basketball championship game in the NEC. I had to work, and since I have MSG at my apartment, I TiVoed the game and watched it when I got home. Without the game being on TV, I would have to wait to hear what happened during the game and miss details.

During the college hockey championships, Cornell and Wisconsin went into three overtimes and yet nobody saw the game. Fans cannot be blamed. If fans do not know the product or know that it is on, why would they watch?

The problem only begins with women’s basketball and men’s hockey. What about the other sports such as lacrosse, volleyball and rugby? It seems if it isn’t college football or men’s basketball, the public does not care.

Networks need to televise more of these games and give people more ways to access them. Fans often wonder how Quinnipiac can have an incredible women’s program and not have fans attend.

When people are home they watch men’s basketball because it’s on TV while a women’s game might be buried on ESPN2. One could also argue the championship games are on the ESPN family of networks, but only the biggest ones are televised live outside of ESPNU, which only a select group of people have access to.

Fox Sports is starting to break the mold with four regions for college sports on its new college sports channels. While it is a start, it cannot end there. The athletes in hockey work just as hard if not harder than the men’s basketball players and it is time to allow them equal television time.


About John Chagaris