Last week, while testifying at the Ed O’Bannon trial, NCAA president Mark Emmert lobbed a (largely false) insult at minor league sports:
To convert college sports into professional sports would be tantamount to converting it into minor league sports. And we know that in the U.S. minor league sports aren’t very successful either for fan support or for the fan experience.
As Hardball Talk’s Craig Calcaterra pointed out, this criticism was fairly ridiculous: “Just on the surface that is dumb, in that Minor League Baseball — though it has experienced ups and downs in its history — has been in a pretty damn sustained upswing for a couple of decades now. An upswing any way you slice it, really. Revenues. Profits. Attendance. New ballparks. Merchandise sales.” Pat O’Connor, the president and CEO of Minor League Baseball also weighed-in, offering Emmert an open invitation to attend a minor league baseball game so that he may see for himself “just how much fan support we have and how the fan experience is like none other in the sports world.”
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But perhaps the best response to Emmert’s comments is coming from the Lake Country Captains, Class A affiliate of the Cleveland Indians, who have decided to host “Mark Emmert Appreciation Night” on July 2. Here are some of the activities planned for the evening:
- Presumably in acknowledgement of the questionable academic standards that student athletes face at some universities, all fans who attend the game and do nothing but stay until the third inning will receive credit towards a future Captains game of their choice. They will receive this benefit, as the Captains release puts it, “just for showing up.”
- The NCAA just recently ruled to allow athletes to have unlimited meals, so the Captains will give four college students an All-You-Can-Eat wristband and tickets to a future game.
- Fans will be allowed to “transfer” seats, after a one inning waiting period, of course.
- Among the prizes distributed will be “one and done” player basketball cards and copies of college football and basketball video games — both of which are sore subjects for the NCAA.
- Copies of Undue Process – The NCAA’s Injustice For All will be distributed to select attendees.
- Fans who take part in in-game promotions will not be awarded any prizes for their efforts, but one of them will be crowned that evening’s BCS (Big
- Captains Superstar) Champion via a subjective vote taken by members of the media and a computerized scoring algorithm.
- And this is probably the best one: “Fans who wear their ‘generic’ college jersey that may or may not correspond to a famous athlete who may attend the same college may be awarded by a visit from a Captains Booster who greets them with a $100 handshake.”
The Captains have extended an invitation to Emmert, but no word on whether he plans on attending yet.