Arizona's first home game under new head coach John Mackovic presents a sort of quandary for me. And as this thought process continues, I'll try to explain what I mean, even though out of the gate it might seem as though I'm contradicting myself.
First and foremost, given that you're reading this on cattracks.net, there's a pretty strong chance you're a hardcore Wildcat sports fan, and as such, given the opportunity you would watch the UA play football live as often as possible. So by all means, if you plan on attending this weekend's game against Idaho, go and cheer as loud as your lungs will allow.
What bothers me about this weekend's game is the UA's decision not to televise it. And apparently, this is strictly a university determination, given that the game is not being picked up by other media outlets.
And here's the reason why I'm uncomfortable with that decision. To me, it smacks of a strong-arm technique, as if the university is using its ability to show, or not show, a football game as a way to force more viewers to the stadium.
In a small way, it's as if the university athletic department isn't willing to invest the time necessary for Mackovic to build the program to a level that will attract greater attendance. Let's be honest for a moment. As a whole, the Arizona fan base, and Tucson in general, does not rank as a hotbed for sports enthusiasm. It's a more laid-back, "win and we'll support you" attitude. But when a program wins, and wins consistently, the support will follow. Men's basketball has illustrated that trend, as has softball.
The decision not to televise looks to me a lot like the maneuver of an institution more concerned about the bottom line than it should be at this stage. Hiring Mackovic was expensive, no question, but one also should view it as an investment that will pay off in the years ahead, not this week. Arizona has shown great patience with its programs in the past, and more often than not, that approach has been successful. Granted, deciding not to televise a football game seems like small potatoes, but it's not a move a fiscally stable university has to make.
Arizona wants to show off its product, but it might as well show it off by using television as often as it can, instead of forcing the hands of borderline fans. Those borderline fans might not consider the lack of television this week a real inconvenience. As a result, perhaps they'll attend, which is what the university naturally wants. Or perhaps they'll find another way to occupy their Saturday night.
I'm just saying that if I was a borderline fan, with my negative disposition toward being instructed what to do, I'd probably just work on my handicap at Magic Carpet Golf.
Hardcore sports fans have a hard time with band-wagoners, but the reality is the band-wagon jumpers make or break the bottom line, and that holds true for any high-profile, big-money sports franchise.
I'm confident Arizona will win its share of football games under Mackovic's guidance. And I'm confident more fans will attend UA football games as a result, thus benefiting the athletic department coffers. But I believe that time is somewhere in the future.
In my opinion, making Arizona Stadium the lone location for football viewing this weekend is closing the door, not opening the door for the audience the UA ultimately wants to attract.