(Photo Courtesy of High Point Athletics)
Growing up in the South, you get pretty accustomed to and drawn into the fandom and spectacle that is college football at a young age. It is, as many say, pretty dang close to a religion. Go anywhere below the Mason-Dixon Line and you will see pretty quickly what is king down here.
One of the great things about college football, especially in the modern age, has been the emergence of televised games every single week of the season. You can watch pretty much any game you want to nowadays. But while the Power Five dominate the screens on Saturday, Group of Five conferences reap benefits from playing midweek games. I’m talking Tuesday and Wednesday night MACtion, FunBelt (Sun Belt) and even Thursday night and Friday night ACC or AAC games.
A smaller pool of games during the week means that smaller teams or conferences can have the spotlight all to themselves during the week and not worry about some of the big dogs taking up all of their airtime and, subsequently, their money. And yes, I watch all those midweek college football games. Who cares if one of the teams playing is 1-6. It’s college football baby!
Does college lacrosse generate as much money as college football? No. But that doesn’t mean that teams and conferences can’t reap similar benefits from playing televised games during the week.
Tuesday night is usually the big midweek night for college lacrosse with some big programs and many smaller programs playing a Tuesday game almost every week of the season. But most or all of those games are streamed and not televised. Once in a blue moon, a regular-season game might be televised during the middle of the week. But that’s not how it should be.
Imagine if the Patriot League used their contract with CBS Sports to get one Thursday night game a week from March through April. That wouldn’t just increase the amount of exposure for those schools or that conference, but it would also help increase the exposure to casual fans who only watch TV games and non-lacrosse fans, as well.
Big Ten Sunday night lacrosse has created a buzz and that could carry over to smaller conferences during the week, as well. Imagine if last year’s Tuesday night contest between Loyola and Towson or any other big non-TV midweek matchup in recent memory was on TV instead of streamed on the internet. Any of them would have likely been a massive hit. For example, Towson-Loyola in 2019 was marquee midweek game that was streamed instead of broadcast on TV.
But even if we got SoCon Monday night games or NEC Tuesday night games on, at least, ESPN News people would tune in for sure. And while the more hardcore fans would likely make up most of the viewers, there would be new fans and casual fans stumbling upon a game like that, as well.
With smaller teams and conferences and teams playing televised midweek games and the blue bloods taking the airtime on Saturdays, college lacrosse would thrive and potentially evolve into something bigger and better than we have today.
Maybe, just maybe, some of the smaller college lacrosse programs would build a much bigger brand than they already have due to playing two or three televised midweek games per season. That is exactly how brands like Louisville and Rutgers football built themselves up to be even larger back in the Big East days.
Televised college lacrosse games on a Tuesday or Thursday night each week of the season would be fantastic for the game and the schools and conferences involved. It needs to happen sooner rather than later.