OMAHA, Nebraska – The popularity of college baseball is a reliable source of disappointment among fans and observers of the sport. The truth of the matter is that while college baseball has risen above niche status not so long ago, it is not as lucrative or as popular as football or basketball, both men’s sports are flagship at the collegiate level.
In a vacuum, this might not be particularly significant, but the laggard position of college baseball contrasts with the strong and steady pull of Major League Baseball. While the National Football League is in its own stratosphere, MLB is claiming to be the No. 1 team sport. It’s 2 in the United States in terms of total revenue (and the same spot demand from time to time when it comes to priority status among the American public). While the popularity of college football and college basketball roughly traces the professional versions, that is not the case with basketball.
There are a number of possible reasons for this. One that stands out is the strong regional nature of college baseball. As the season begins in February, teams in the northern championship play almost uniformly in the early weeks on the road. By the time outdoor temperatures can be defined as “baseball-worthy,” schools in the Big Ten, say, are close to emptying their campuses for the summer break. This issue is much less so in the south, but there is no doubt that the popularity of college baseball is declining outside the SEC and in some corners of the Big 12 and ACC.
That said, things are moving in a more positive direction. ESPN has invested in more frequent regular season televisions on college baseball, and a number of name programs have invested in upgraded facilities in recent years. Also, the emergence of NIL revenue streams (name, image and likeness) for players could help college baseball better deal with the fact that Division I teams receive 11.7 respectable scholarships to fill their full rosters .
All of this brings us to the 2022 Men’s College World Series in Omaha and our upcoming journey on storytelling. The CWS Men’s best of three final between Ole Miss and Oklahoma kicked off with Game 1 on Saturday, Ole Miss’s 10-3 win that puts them within one win of the first national championship in program history. The league is a match up of two prestigious football schools, which is not so unusual in Omaha. Ole Miss is a powerful CSS West denizen and has re-emerged as a national semi-power under a good coach for Lane Kiffin’s business. Oklahoma, on the other hand, is a blue – blooded college footballer who is regularly in the mix for one of the sport’s four (for the time being) replay spots. Also, earlier enthusiasm is emerging from coach Lincoln Riley’s brilliant departure for Southern Cal.
So, with that football origins clearly recognized, CBS Sports posed a simple hypothetical question to fans of both teams, some betraying in Lot D outside Charles Schwab Field in Omaha and some awaiting entry for Game 1. Ba. The question is: If you can pick only one, do you choose for your team the College World Series you are attending or win the college national football championship in the fall?
Of course this is not the intensity of the scientific poll. The sample size is not pure, in that they are fans who got in trouble for attending the Men’s College World Series and paying something premium for the privilege. That is, they probably want a relatively small college baseball, even if there is a preternatural pull towards football if you are an Ole Miss or OU fan. However, he says here that there is lighting in the casual – at least enough to protect these words and this effort. Something like that.
“I’m going to take baseball,” said T.J., an OU fan from Arkansas, when asked to pick one national title or the other. “We’ve had some success in football. Baseball – I mean, they’m okay, but I think this would make the baseball team last longer than it would be on the football team.”
OU Scott fans said: “Football. We look forward to winning everything in football. We are also big fans of OU softball, so getting the ‘double diamond’ victory would be monstrous, but we always going to be football. “
Scott referred to the fact that Oklahoma softball won the Women’s College World Series this year, which means the Sooners have a strong chance of becoming the first school ever to win the national softball and baseball championships the same year.
“I love football,” said Wes, an earlier fullback who was hanging out with Scott. “I think it would be awesome to win this [the CWS], I really think. But win it? Football.”
“Both,” Brian tried to answer in violation of the mentioned rules while working on the grill in Lot D. But then, after a pause. “I’ll take baseball. So we could have a back to back goal – the softball team and then the baseball team. Nobody’s done.”
“Baseball,” OU fans and spouses Rodney and Carolyn responded almost in unison.
As for the reason: “Because we do it all the time in football,” Rodney said. “Football at university is not as well supported as baseball. Women win the OU, and if the men won the OU it would be great.”
“In baseball, no one thought they’re here. They deserve it,” said Carolyn, who said she lives a lifetime in Norman, Okla., Where OU is located, and alum. “They only have one ancestor to go with four new men and three sophomores [in the lineup], and they are working hard to make it.
“I think it’s rally time in our baseball program. Football has energy, a lot of support, a lot of money, a lot of donors, a big stadium. Baseball needs pressure, and here it is.”
For those who count that is four out of six OU fans who choose to dominate Omaha instead of winning it in football in a few months. Now to the loyal opposition deep into the heart of the SEC-controlled realms.
“Ole Miss baseball,” Leigh Ann Haley said. “I just love baseball.”
It should be noted that there may be some bias with Mr. Haley, and her son Harrison parking for Delta State.
“Football,” Ole fans said Miss Gene Gray. “Let’s beat the hell out of Alabama.”
“I have to go in football,” said one nearby fan of Ole Miss, the withheld name, who played a preseason with Leigh Ann and Gene. “I don’t know, I’m just football. He’s played my whole life. One reason, you know, Mississippi State won the natty last year, but they never won it in football. That’s bragging rights if we won football.
“I’m going to say because we’re here, we want to win right now – baseball,” said Mandy, an Ole Miss fan from Hattiesburg, Miss. (Southern Miss town, which swept Ole Miss in the super regions).
“I’d say I’d rather win the national football championship,” said Mandy’s husband, Brad, who approached the issue pragmatically. “That’s why I think we’re back here. Our chances of winning a national football championship are far less than returning to Omaha and getting another shot at this one.”
Of the five Ole Miss polled fans, two chose the ultimate baseball glory, while three joined football. The two sample populations combined, with 11 – 54.5 percent – going to baseball. Promised? Maybe. To be sure, if you were to present a similar question to a fan attending a college football championship game, football would certainly be the unanimous answer. That said, this is not a canvass of the rare “uber alles” baseball schools like Vanderbilt and Oregon State. OU and Ole Miss are undoubtedly football-driven sports institutions, but before the opening of the CWS Men’s final, their partners leaned towards football, albeit with difficulty and perhaps temporarily.
If you are a college baseball, the average kid who is neglected among men’s amateur sports, you will take enthusiasm in all its forms.