Thursday, March 24, 2011

Is Storrs really on the map?

Can you find Storrs on a map? And, no, you can't just point to Connecticut and say "somewhere in there."
Sure people know Storrs because that's where the University of Connecticut is. But do people have an overwhelming desire to go there? Sure I live within a two-hour drive and sometimes I do go down to see a women's hockey game. But for women's basketball, I usually choose the games contested at the XL Center in Hartford--which is where the first round of the tournament should have been held. (I am sure there were legitimate scheduling conflicts/cost concerns, etc.) But when Geno Auriemma complains that the arena at UConn, Gampel Pavillion, was only at 60 percent capacity when UConn took on Purdue and called the fans spoiled, well, he must not live in Storrs.
If I lived closer, I would have gone. But there's nothing in Storrs. If I want to grab dinner before or after the game, it's kind of hard unless I am up for wings or take-out calzones (though they are quite tasty). It's a trip for me to Storrs, just as it is for many other fans. (I am still continually surprised that the coaches can get top recruits to go there.)
And honestly, after seeing that Purdue/UConn game, I was glad I opted to watch from the comfort of my couch where I didn't have to pay for gas and deal with overzealous Husky fans. (They scare me!)
And that's also part of the issue. Games are not always very compelling. This is not to say that women's basketball isn't interesting or that the skills demonstrated by the players are not impressive. But blowouts are boring unless you are a fan who only cares about your team winning. And I am not that fan. (I picked against Iowa in the first round, which shows you how (not very) strong my loyalty is to my degree-granting institutions.) There is excitement in closely contested, well-played games. This is not to take away from UConn's accomplishments, it's just to say that I don't feel the need to go watch them live. And clearly other people feel similarly.
I know Auriemma's threat of not bidding to be a host site is supposed to be some kind of punishment/power play (seriously, how many coaches in women's basketball can get away with insulting their fans in that way? I guess he treats his fans the way he treats his players). But I think it's probably a good idea for UConn to take a break from hosting.

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