Last weekend was a pretty big weekend on the Heights.
The new-look Boston College men's basketball team acquitted itself well at the Puerto Rico Tip-Off in San Juan, downing New Mexico and playing West Virginia and Dayton tough—all three are probable NCAA Tournament teams. Moral victories aside, I'm not sure last year's team plays nearly as well as they did in that tournament if played a year ago. The early returns of the Jim Christian era of BC basketball are encouraging.
BC's nationally ranked men's and women's hockey programs were in action on the Heights on Friday (women's) and Saturday (men's), and the Boston College football team traveled to Tallahassee to take on Florida State, taking the #1 team in the country down to the wire in a 20-17 loss.
About every year or so, like clockwork, a member of the media notices that others aren't taking notice of Boston College athletics...and attempts to unearth the reason for such local apathy. Boston.com's Will Gordon is the latest member of the media to step up to the plate.
Here's what he came up with:
– New England's relative antipathy toward college sports
– Locals don't remember Andre Williams was a Heisman Trophy finalist a year ago
– BC is located in a nice part of an uptight town (i.e. neighbors hate us), so tailgating sucks
– BC students and alumni are so obnoxious that they are driving potential fans away
– Local media bias against BC
– Anecdotally, the author has never been to Conte Forum despite living just a few miles away
Perhaps my favorite piece of supporting evidence is the use of a TicketCity data survey that proves that Harvard football is more popular than Boston College football. That survey used each team's number of Facebook likes and Twitter followers, the monthly average of Google searches for each team by users in that team's state and the average price of game tickets on the secondary market. Remember this map?
Doesn't take an economics major to point out the flaw in measuring interest in this way. When the school has a completely separate pricing structure for The Game and the price of a scarce few number of Harvard-Yale tickets on the secondary market is driven up, well, there you have it.
I'm not even sure if you can purchase Harvard football tickets for NOT The Game on the secondary market at all, seeing as games against Lafayette and Cornell are attended by less than 10k fans. That would mean this particular data point solely the secondary ticket price for the always-sold-out Harvard-Yale game, which, OK.
[For reference, since BC's 74 percent of Alumni Stadium capacity attendance figure was cited in the article, Harvard, which just completed a perfect 10-0 season, averaged 15,018 fans for five home games this year, or 49.5 percent of Harvard Stadium's capacity. Heading into the home finale against Syracuse, BC is averaging 34,938 fans for six home games, or 78.5 percent of capacity.]
Anyway, sportswriters may be the only group of people singularly obsessed with determining why countless others aren't partaking in their leisure activity of choice. Really, why do we care?
These articles could be written in just a few short sentences. So, here, Boston sports writers. Here is your 2015 installment of "Why Does Nobody Care About College Sports" article. You can thank me later.
1) Well, some people do care about college sports; just not a lot. The number of people interested in, say, college football or basketball continues to be dwarfed by the number of people who care about the Patriots, for instance. Especially given the meteoric rise in popularity of the NFL relative to all other North American professional sports leagues.
2) BC is a pretty small school in a city filled with them. Ninety-nine percent of people that live in the greater Boston metro area did not attend BC because math. 168,651 alumni worldwide divided by 4.59 million people in the greater Boston area is a small number.
3) Pro sports are objectively better quality than college sports. With a finite number of hours one can dedicate to leisure activities, it shouldn't come as a shock that locals are more interested in watching pro sports over a college football team or a college basketball team for a school they didn't attend.
That's it. There's your article. Spread the word to sportswriters at the various newspapers in Boston, Chicago, Miami, San Francisco and other markets where private schools playing FBS football garner but a fraction of the media coverage its professional sports franchise counterparts enjoy.
That said, A+ on the two paragraphs describing Florida State's "cartoonishly out of control" football program. Really well done there. Best of luck with #FSUTwitter.