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ACC Kickoff: College sports as big business

You don’t think college sports is a business? Consider this ACC Kickoff I’m fortunate enough to be able to be a part of.

It’s no different than what TV networks do when they’re rolling out their fall season. In fact, it’s all that, and maybe more.

We’ve got our stars – in our case, coaches and players.

We’ve got the shiny trophies, most notably, the national championship trophy.

The writers and broadcasters here are being treated and feted like kings, the expectation being that, in return, we’ll do our part, this week and then throughout the season, to provide the friendly reminders through our coverage that there are tickets to be purchased, games to be consumed on TV.

They don’t care what we write, to a degree. (As if a sportswriter is going to step over the line, right?)

It’s that we write, that we talk on the radio and TV and podcasts.

The more we write and talk, the more you read and listen, and then tune in.

That’s the idea, anyway.

That’s how the gravy train keeps rolling down the tracks.

And honestly, it’s more about the TV side of things than the ticket sales.

You definitely see that here.

I’ve covered these events for years now, but this year feels different.

ESPN is clearly driving everything here this week, and it should be, because it’s ESPN bucks that are keeping the ACC competitive vis-à-vis the SEC and Big Ten, or, will.

My colleague, Scott German, has written extensively this week about how ESPN is struggling to get the nascent ACC Network onto cable systems as the countdown to the Aug. 22 launch looms.

The general consensus here is that things will fall into place by the deadline, because these kinds of things always fall into place by whatever the deadline is.

Basically, everybody involved – ESPN, the ACC, the cable providers – all stand to make even more money than they do now.

It’s just a matter of how much, really.

They know that you want to watch, and that when the things get worked out the way they need to, that you will watch.

If you buy tickets to a few games here and there, that’s icing on the cake financially for the schools, and a better-looking set for the TV people.

Makes it look more lively, with people at the games screaming their fool heads off.

Maybe helps squeeze a few more dollars out of the advertisers, when the thrilling action on the TV screen draws in a few more viewers.

I’m not casting aspersions calling all of this what it is.

You don’t pay coaches millions of dollars a year if you’re just hoping to win games for the sake of winning games.

Coaches are grossly overcompensated relative to their peers in the business world based on how much money they bring in.

And schools have way, way too much invested in terms of infrastructure relative to even the rosiest of rosy assessments of possible return on those investments.

Thing is, they’re all caught up in an arms race, trying to get those dollars.

It has absolutely nothing to do with educating kids, just to dispel that notion.

You probably knew that already, and don’t care, and just want to read about how your team is going to do,

Sorry. I’ll get back to that.

Column by Chris Graham

augusta free press
augusta free press