With the recent passing of the 2012 College Cup, we now have to pass judgment on how the NCAA handled their premier soccer event. We definitely do not want to take anything away from the teams that competed in the Cup, and we would like to congratulate Indiana on being the best team in College soccer in 2012.
First, we have to discuss whether the playoff picture provides for the best tournament picture. Although we love seeing Cinderella teams like Creighton in the final four, the competition that we saw in the last three games of the season worried some that we were risking having some of the more talented teams get knocked out too early. The only game in the entire weekend worth watching was the fantastic semi-final between Maryland (a top ranked team) and Georgetown (a top ranked team). Perhaps we should limit the tournament to legitimate title contenders and move farther away from a “March Madness” type set-up. If only 8 or 16 team got in, the talent level should be quite high across the board and the tournament would be short enough for the teams to maintain a high level of competition throughout.
Secondly, the NCAA really needs to rethink the location of the College Cup. Sure, Alabama needs a “shot-in-the-arm” in terms of soccer team growth and placing the Cup in Hoover, AL seems to have been an intelligent move. However, with the change of venue to Philadelphia, the mindset of the NCAA has to be questioned. The fans will be there, and the facilities will definitely be available- but, will any non die-hard fans be willing to travel to a freezing cold venue (the Cup takes place in December)? Also, Philly is the home of several professional sports teams that will be moving through their seasons during the weekend of the College Cup. If the Eagles, 76ers, and Flyers all have home games that lie close to the Cup, it will take away from possible attendees and also will create a travel/lodging nightmare for anyone attempting to make the trip to the Cup. Although Alabama may not be the best venue, it allowed the Cup to stand alone and it provided one of the warmest possible places to attempt to have a sporting event in December.
To wrap this up, the NCAA need to see the potential to profit from the nation’s fastest growing game. They have created impossible conditions for writers like myself to get press access, they have limited themselves by showing their most important games on a channel that many homes in America do not have (ESPNU), and the atmosphere that was created outside of the College Cup this year was only positive because of booths that Wilson sports had set up. If the NCAA continues to ignore the growth and the possibilities that College soccer holds, they may end up killing a game to the point where prospective players and fans start to avoid it all-together. After all, MLS games are more exciting and even semi-pro players can become more successful than the typical college player.
Written by: Andrew McCole, writer, soccerprose.com
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