Takes a pandemic to bring me back for a bit I guess .. or the Great GP1. I do think that saying "no" is a largely undervalued skill these days.
What is the big picture?
GP1 makes some interesting observations. What's the actual objective of adding a non revenue sport to the athletic department of an (awesome) midwestern university? What's the objective of adding a sport which is at a distinctive disadvantage to southern schools in a sport where the weather is a problem in the north, and leveling the playing field requires substantial travel budget or indoor facilities? I'm not sure .. other than perhaps pacifiying some medium (deep) pocket vendors who played UA baseball or have an affinity for it.
This is interesting to me as I'm in a funny spot with baseball. Years ago, I really had a disdain for MLB after the strike shortened MLB year, and the fake manufactured season of Sosa / McGuire. Now that my kids are playing lots of baseball and softball, I really enjoy the summer evenings at the ball field. But it's the ball field with my kids playing on it .. there's no real or imagined sense that anyone out there will ever make any money playing the sport .. they're with their friends and having a good time, and hoping they can get the win before Bossie's ice cream truck shuts down at around 9PM. We like an MLB or MiLB game here and there, but it's based on the fact the kids are playing the game.
Opportunity exists in chaos. And opportunity to reshape the athletic department exists in the current situation. The current climate calls for real and substantial efforts in belt tightening by the current UA Administration .. the same type of belt tightening that was called for by Scarborough (and hampered by clumsy PR) and attempted by Wilson through better administrative approaches.
Understand that the lens through which I currently view sports is one defined by what my kids are currently interested in. Winter church league basketball is one of the main reasons I'm not at the JAR as much as I'd like. The simple fact for me is that a 5th grade girls CYO game on a slippery lineoleum floor in Parma at noon on a Saturday is the best use of my time and energy. As much as I love the Zips .. I love CYO hoops more. It's not close.
A recent thing I've gotten exposed to due to our boys' interest is rugby. Our youngest picked it up last year as a 6 year old .. and it led our oldest picking it up as a freshman in HS. It's a fascinating sport, with its own unique culture and history. I'm certain that the biggest thing I'll remember out of this pandemic shutdown is the lost season from our oldest as he was carving out a spot contributing on his HS team. Not much exceeds the joy in seeing your kid find a sport he / she likes and gets after while also finding supportive and demanding coaches to push them.
Why do I mention this? It occurs to me that if you want to add sports to an Athletic Department, you'd pick one which is a growth opportunity. What sports are growing in the US on a participation basis? Baseball sure isn't one of them. What sports are there that are currently niche sports which not every university has but are among the fastest growing in the US (look it up)? And what sports are growing in the region of the University which might be quickly adopted by the region if a University nearby fielded a team? Finally, what sports could be added which require minimal capital investment for facilities or training ground? If you ask these questions .. there are only a couple of sports that fit the bill. Sad to say, I don't think baseball is one of them.
Lacrosse does seem like it's a growth opportunity. Tons of kids (boys and girls) are chewing up their parent's hard earned quid to play this now. I think they got it right in adding Women's Lacrosse. I'd also submt that rugby would be another to be considered. It's a winter / early spring sport and could leverage First Energy Field at a time that doesn't conflict with Soccer. Northeast Ohio is one of the bigger youth and HS Rugby areas in the US .. and a couple of teams in the area are among the best in the nation annually. And not a lot of Universities have it, especially locally. UA could be the regional leader in multiple GLOBAL sports .. not just an also-ran in the usual menu.
While now isn't going to be a time to add sports .. cuttiing and sensible budgeting are the order of the times, I wonder if the Athletic Department has a broader view of the horizon which includes more than "what we've always done at Akron", or "what the rest of the MAC does" .. or "what we need to have to be attractive for some mythical future realignment frenzy?"
Shouldn't UA be asking more fundamental and existential questions of it's Athletic Department now? What is the real objective of the department? What are the real goals? And what sports should be sponsored to help reach those objectives? A pissing match between fans who see UA as a football school vs. hoops school or vise versa isn't productive.
I guess I went ful DiG here .. thanks for sticking with me. Hope all of ZN.O is safe and healthy.