Our Man Graham Hays Weighs In Too

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Our Man Graham Hays Weighs In Too

Post by Stonehouse on Tue Nov 13, 2007 11:18 am

WOW!!! Graham Hays of ESPN.com really took up the baton for us:

http://sports.espn.go.com/ncaa/columns/story?columnist=hays_graham&id=3107829

But ignoring one of the game's strongest success stories, both on the field and at the gate, as the NCAA has done yet again with the University of Portland, isn't something fans of women's soccer should have to accept as part of the price for supporting a growing sport.

Modern world or not, there are still plenty of people ready to dismiss and demean the fans who follow women's sports. The NCAA shouldn't be among them. But by telling Portland fans to stay home this weekend, the selection committee sent a message that performance on the field and support in the stands just don't matter.

And as much fun as the next four weeks are going to be on the road to the College Cup at another great venue at Texas A&M, this year's tournament is worse because of it.

Wow WOw WOW!!!

He also has a really good article previewing the the tournament:

http://sports.espn.go.com/ncaa/columns/story?columnist=hays_graham&id=3107914

He picks us to make the College Cup and he also says that LMU has the biggest grip about not being selected. Here's his take on the potential UCLA quarterfinal match:

Portland vs. UCLA: If the bracket worked out any other way, I would have picked these two teams to play for the title. Instead they could meet in a quarterfinal in Los Angeles for the second year in a row. Last year's game was a thriller in which the Pilots took a 1-0 lead, only to watch the Bruins rally back for a 2-1 win on goals from McCall Zerboni and Cheney.

Between Cheney, Adams, DiMartino, Lang, Val Henderson, Angie Woznuk, Stephanie Lopez, Sophie Schmidt and Michelle Enyeart, there might be as many as nine future World Cup players on the field at one time. That's a compelling quarterfinal.

Graham Hays... you are the man! We should all email him and thank him for his support: Graham.Hays@espn3.com

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Re: Our Man Graham Hays Weighs In Too

Post by ninjapizza on Tue Nov 13, 2007 3:36 pm

The column has been updated to include the NCAA's explanation:

As with any organization as large as the NCAA, rules sometimes take on an unassailable superiority which trumps individual circumstances. For non-revenue-generating sports, schools located within 350 miles of a host site are considered to be within driving range. Anything more means a flight, and committees have been ordered to keep flights to a minimum (eight teams will fly to opening-round sites this year, two more than last year).

So once the soccer committee knew Portland, Hawaii, Denver and Colorado would be together, it couldn't even consider putting them in Oregon.

"When we look at it, it's the whole bracket," Fasbender said. "It's the overall cabinet issue -- NCAA issue -- when we're doing this. It isn't like the committee sits down and says, 'Portland is going to bring in X number of dollars.' We don't have that leverage sitting in that room. …That's not one of the rules that we're able to look at. We have to look at the fewest number of flights that we can get for a bracket, because we are a non-revenue-generating sport. That is a cabinet policy that has been handed down to all committees to implement."

Maybe I'm not the most sophisticated fiscal thinker out there, but it seems like they're saying they'd rather stick with losing a set amount of money than guessing how much they might actually make by letting Portland host.

Thank goodness for rules.

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Re: Our Man Graham Hays Weighs In Too

Post by KFTC on Tue Nov 13, 2007 4:05 pm

I seem to recall from Dr. Duff's Sociology of Sport class (back in the 90s) that NCAA March Madness single-handedly funds every other NCAA sport. I really do understand the need for fiscal responsibility in business ventures, but the NCAA is right smack-dab in the middle of a multi-year deal with CBS that pays them out $6 Billion over 11 years for the rights to March Madness. Is the NCAA saying they can't really pony up an addition $20,000 out of that to send an extra team to Portland? Especially since they will make it back in ticket, TV, and merchandise revenue?

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Re: Our Man Graham Hays Weighs In Too

Post by Stonehouse on Tue Nov 13, 2007 4:26 pm

The thing that frustrates me is that Fasbender says multiple times that it's a non-revenue generating sport. While it may be true that there is not big money coming in from TV contracts like March Madness, that doesn't mean that they should just totally ignore this totally unfair situation.

I think it's perfectly reasonable to consider average attendance as a criterea when determining hosts. Look at how Fasbender words this:

"It isn't like the committee sits down and says, 'Portland is going to bring in X number of dollars.' We don't have that leverage sitting in that room. …That's not one of the rules that we're able to look at."

That's not one of the rules that they are ABLE to look at. So really, if they could just pass a rule that would allow them to consider it, then maybe this won't happen any more.

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Re: Our Man Graham Hays Weighs In Too

Post by Stonehouse on Tue Nov 13, 2007 4:34 pm

By the way... this story is now the main feature on ESPN.com's college sports section:

http://sports.espn.go.com/ncaa/index

I wish it was for happier news, but how great is it to see our fans and Merlo Field get such good attention?! Smile

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Let's Change That Rule!

Post by FANatic on Tue Nov 13, 2007 5:56 pm

I agree, Stonehouse. We need to get the WCC involved and other powerbrokers to get that rule changed about considering average attendance.

It makes total sense to me. However, I am but a lamb to the NCAA's fire-breathing dragon.

I'm not optimistic for the future. However, getting front page on espn college sports just might start a few bigger wheels turning!

Great job on all this, Stonehouse!

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Re: Our Man Graham Hays Weighs In Too

Post by pms275 on Tue Nov 13, 2007 8:00 pm

It's really about arcane rules trumping common sense. Progressive, outside the box thinking isn't exactly a strong suite of the NCAA--never has been.


Last edited by on Wed Nov 14, 2007 6:51 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Our Man Graham Hays Weighs In Too

Post by Geezaldinho on Tue Nov 13, 2007 8:06 pm

Great article by Graham Hays. I guess he grocked what UP soccer is about on his visit here. His articles on the drum squad and Clive were also great. I'm going to send him a thank you email for sure. If he comes back for the Tennessee game, I'll give him a free tour of the 30 Portland Breweries, or as many as we can get through.

I've just started absorbing the rest of the recent postings. one thing sticks out---I'm tired of hearing the term "non revenue sport"

The fact is, soccer is a revenue sport at Portland. It could be a revenue sport in the rest of the NCAA if the Neanderthal's in the NCAA and 65 year old male AD's opened their eyes. The NCAA just announced a $100K grant to women's basketball teams. That's great, but it just means that they can double up on existing facilities and get some revenue from them with little or no extra output. I'm sure there are strings attached, but $100k is a very small step. It won't even pay for some locker rooms.

Women's soccer will require most schools to actually lay out some cash. From what I've seen at almost all facilities around the NCAA, that hasn't happened anywhere except UP. I try to go to away games when I can, and The facilities almost everywhere are recycled old track and field or football venues that suck, or they are built on swamp land no one else wants. I haven't been to A&M, but I can't really think of a single facility other than UP where I thought "wow, what a great place to watch soccer". Usually, I'm thinking more like "I can get through this, the soccer will be worth the pain". How are you ever going to grow a sport into revenue status when a die-hard fan can barely tolerate it?

Gonzaga plays in a sloping mud hole with some temporary stands. Some pranksters were able to move the whole facility 50 yards a couple years ago. Instead of moving it back, the grounds crew just re-lined the field where it sat.

UW is more the swampland brand of soccer venue. They play on a sloping windswept rutted, crowned Pitch behind the baseball field. It appears to slope corner-to corner 18" or so. The good news is that the crosswinds blow the ball up hill.

Oregon and Oregon State play in venues my high school team would have scoffed at 45 years ago. I'm serious- Lincoln High School's is better. PSU? well, they haven't spent any money on any sport. to expect women's soccer to get anything there is silly.

Instead, schools are spending 100 million on baseball sites. It's no wonder there are no other good soccer programs in the NW.

Around the country-

UCLA? probably the least fan friendly place on earth. The visiting stands are in a different zip code. even the home seats suck on account of the track. The PA system sounds like the Saturday Night Live land shark speaking through a Kazoo. I should hate the rival Bruin players (in the sporting sense), but I can't really claim to have seen them in person yet.

Even at UNC, the most storied program in the country, you sit so far away that you need binoculars to get the numbers.

Then there was Nebraska (maybe it was Kansas, I'm old) -- A non standard field out on a windswept hell, one little set of bleachers - maybe 75 fans standing around the field. The UP contingent was larger than the home team's. There were more fans at touch football games in the park when I was a kid. Really sad.

A Notre Dame playoff game was almost as bad, I'm told.

Even our respected rival Santa Clara-- Buck Shaw? That stadium was scrapped for football 40 years ago! Maybe the new MLS deal will upgrade it to respectability. I hope so. They deserve better.

I'm not talking poorly funded athletic departments here-- These are RICH SCHOOLS. They spend more on wide screen TV's in their football stadiums than it took to build Merlo. (contrary to what they want you to believe, most D1 football programs lose money, but football is still still called a revenue sport.)

Until they take the sport seriously, the NCAA sure won't, and the sport will never grow into a "revenue sport". Women's soccer is an afterthought everywhere except UP. It's usually just there for title IX to help counterbalance the 85 football scholarships. This little school is the only place in the country where a women's sport is at the top of the athletic heap. Part of me wants it to stay that way- frankly, the Pilots school probably couldn't compete with the mega-schools if those schools took the sport seriously.

But I'm not really worried. the BCS school's threats of buying all the seeded locations if we have to bid on them is hot air. They are terrified at he prospect - One less wide screen TV. The myopic attitude the major schools and the NCAA have will certainly mean we will have more and more success as young athletes find they don't need to "settle" at UP.

The only way things will change is if the BCS schools reorganize their priorities, if behavior that furthers the sport is rewarded, and if the NCAA is shamed into it. Until then, I'll be happy Having the wonderful soccer programs we have, even if it means getting screwed in the tournament every year. Graham's article is one small step towards shaming the NCAA. It was Soccer Times' Gary Davidson the last time around, I believe. (Thanks again, Gary). At least it's a start.

ps- I read ms. Fasbender's rebuttal with Hay's article -- how lame to hide behind rules. I know she's just the stand-up face, but "Vee are chust followink zee rules" is passe'. The rules are supposed to be for the furtherance of the sport. They come up for review every year, and all levels of management have input. If the tournament committee said "we can't run a tournament like this- it's bad for the sport. It can be done better at no added cost" things would change.

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Re: Our Man Graham Hays Weighs In Too

Post by FANatic on Tue Nov 13, 2007 8:40 pm

Right on Geezer! That was a bloody masterpiece!!! Very Happy

Very enlightening and full of interesting tidbits. Purplegeezer for mayor!!!

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Re: Our Man Graham Hays Weighs In Too

Post by pms275 on Tue Nov 13, 2007 9:16 pm

Geezer, I think the only thing I'd disagree with you on is the state of Oregon's soccer venue. It's not Merlo, but you're close to the action and it's a nice field/atmosphere. Unfortunately, the only time they draw a crowd over a few hundred is when Portland comes to town.

But, oh yeah...Oregon State's venue is embarrassing and the parking is terrible. And it sits right next to a much nicer baseball stadium--which as you pointed out is where schools seem to be dumping their money.

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Re: Our Man Graham Hays Weighs In Too

Post by UPSoccerFanatic on Tue Nov 13, 2007 10:39 pm

There are some other good college soccer venues. North Carolina State's in Greensboro, where the Pilots played their epic four overtime semi-final 1-0 loss to North Carolina (followed by an exhausted NC's loss in the finals), is a good stadium. (That game, in my opinion, signaled the end of the North Carolina era. As a wise commentator said afterwards, "20 high school All Americans vs a well coached soccer team!" When I saw Clive the next day at the high school soccer fest that ordinarily accompanies the Final Four and said what a great game the Pilots played, his characteristic understated comment was, "Glad we could entertain!" It still chokes me up when I think of that game.)

SMU's field in Dallas is a very good venue. So is Texas' in Austin, except that it is separated from the grandstands by a track. Still, it's hard not to love the site of that first championship. And, A&M's field in College Station is excellent, and the site of one of the greatest Pilots team-fan love fests of all time! Also, I agree that the U of O's field is a much improved venue, and so is UW's.

But, nothing matches Merlo. It is the most beautiful, intimate soccer venue I ever have seen, by far. Clive's spirit inhabits it and that no doubt is what Graham Hays experienced. I think other teams that come here know it, too. I think they say to themselves, "So this is what it's really supposed to be like."

GO PILOTS!

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Re: Our Man Graham Hays Weighs In Too

Post by Geezaldinho on Tue Nov 13, 2007 11:31 pm

I did see the SMU stadium once when I was passing through town. You are right, it does look nice. I've never seen a game there, so I have no feel for the atmosphere.

The Last time I was at Oregon, the field we played on was pitiful. Admittedly, that was many years ago. since then, I always seem to have other commitments that week, A couple of you have stated the facility is much nicer now. I'll have to try harder to go back. I'd really like to enjoy the atmosphere at another campus.

I still think UW sucks. it's out away from campus so far that there were folks land sailing in the parking lot when we got there once (an ice boat with wheels). Its on the edge of the swamps to the Lake Washington canal. if it was warmer, I'd be on the watch for gators.
The playing field is bad enough that it favors goals on the left. The players sit on one side, the fans on the other, like they are scared of us. The stands are 40 yards from the touch line at ground level, the bleachers leave you fully exposed to the monsoons that come off the lake, and I swear I'm still picking splinters out. If you drop something, it falls under the bleachers and it's a 20 minute walk around them to retrieve it before the kids get it.
make sure you go to the bathroom before you get there.

They know how to do better. Next time you are there, go next door to THEIR baseball field. It's done much nicer, a really first class intimate atmosphere. You know, it wouldn't be so glaring if they didn't put the facilities back to back.

I haven't been to the other venues, but for every nice site you name, I'll bet I can hold suite with 5 bad sites. and sites with a track have a disadvantage from the git-go, even if we won a championship there.

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Re: Our Man Graham Hays Weighs In Too

Post by UPSoccerFanatic on Wed Nov 14, 2007 12:08 am

Funny, we've been to the Pilots' games at UW many times, and it's not Merlo, but we've had a great time. True, the teams sit across the field, which I don't like. But we're as close to the sideline as we are on the north side of Merlo. True, they could do much better. And, there's no place like home -- symbolically and literally.

I guess we have a fondness for going to games at UW because the first time we went was the first time we saw Christine as a freshman. My impression at the time -- "Oh boy, she's the real thing!" Little did I know.

I also remember an NCAA playoff game there. Our niece and her husband live in Seattle, so we visited them and took them to the game. 0-0 with 10 minutes to go. My niece looks down at something, Venessa Talbot scores the only goal, and my niece looks up and says, "What happened?" They come with us every year now, when we get up to the games, and she keeps her eye on the game all the time!

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Re: Our Man Graham Hays Weighs In Too

Post by Geezaldinho on Wed Nov 14, 2007 12:32 am

I had the same reaction at seeing Christine for the first time you had--"jeez, this is going to be a fun four years!"

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy going up there every year, both for the games and the city. I usually hit their tournament and the UP game, when it's there. But there is no way you can call that a first class facility.

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Re: Our Man Graham Hays Weighs In Too

Post by A_Fan on Wed Nov 14, 2007 7:42 am

The new UO soccer field next to the Mashofsky Center is a nice field, but the bathrooms are in the Mashofsky Center and that's a considerably longer hike than to the Chiles Center (which thankfully we no longer have to make).

Geezer is right about the facilities at UW. Go next door to their softball venue as well. A few years ago when they were nationally competitive in softball they build a first class stadium.

I have to agree UP Soccer Fanatic about attending games though. I have friends who live walking distance from the field so I go up every year for their tournament. There are always more UP fans than Husky fans, the last couple of years the weather has been very good, there's lots of purple and you get to see Frenchy who we rarely see at Merlo these days.

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Re: Our Man Graham Hays Weighs In Too

Post by UPSoccerFanatic on Wed Nov 14, 2007 12:48 pm

I agree that UW's field is not first class. Rather, in the same class as San Francisco and St Mary's (well, actually a little better than SF and a lot better than St Mary's). Really, more in the same class as USC, which was an amazing disappointment.

It will be a long, hard haul to get an appreciation for women's college soccer to where it should be, with the commensurate facilities. U of P and Texas A&M are the leaders in the effort and are proving what is possible.

With all said, however, we are the luckiest soccer fans there can be to be able to spend the Fall going to games at Merlo. A beautiful venue, on a beautiful campus, in a beautiful city, in a beautiful state, with a devoted kid and adult fan base and with the Villa "drummer boys" as my wife calls them. I read something last night that made me think right away of Clive and Merlo Field:

"I've always felt that people somehow immortalize themselves in a landscape, that the mere fact of a specific human presence in a place leaves it changed." (From Waiting to be remembered, Marilyn Robinson.)

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