A spring semester on the UW campus wouldn't be complete without the annual cry of "Wisconsin should have a baseball team." But you won't hear any of that here, not one bit. I'm taking a bold line here among my fellow students, but the University of Wisconsin should not have a baseball team. Now, don't get confused. I'm not against the notion of adding a baseball squad to UW athletics. It's a disgrace that Wisconsin is the only Big Ten school without a baseball team. In fact, I would love for athletic director Barry Alvarez to add America's pastime to Wisconsin sports. However, it's just not that realistic. The last time Wisconsin had a baseball team, no one seemed to care — that's why it's gone. In all fairness, the whole athletic department was down before the 1990s, until Alvarez breathed some life into Bucky Badger. Every UW student would like to say things would be different today, but would they? I think not. The attendance for Big Ten baseball games is nothing to brag about. Last year, Ohio State led the conference in average home crowds and was 24th in the nation. The Buckeyes' average attendance: 2,233. While that number isn't too shabby for what would be a non-rev sport, compare it to Wisconsin volleyball. The Field House also held the Big Ten record for attendance in 2006 in its respective sport, and it was nearly double that of what OSU's Bill Davis Stadium raked in for baseball — 4,328. Yes, Madison is a big volleyball town and supports its Badger athletics to the fullest, but the university just couldn't depend on achieving a large attendance number for baseball. Not right away and not with a UW baseball team trying to create its own history. As much as Wisconsin students would love to say they'd snatch up baseball season tickets faster than a Demi Omole 100-yard dash, I'm just not buying it. The most likely destination for a potential baseball stadium would be over by UW Hospital, close to where Wisconsin plays softball at Goodman Diamond. You're telling me students would eagerly jump on the 80 bus or walk nearly two miles to fill the stands? I doubt it. Aside from football games, people on campus complain more than Terrell Owens when having to go from one side to the other. Furthermore, students don't even acknowledge the fact that Wisconsin actually does have a baseball team. Sure, it's only a club team, but if UW students were so baseball-crazy, there would at least be some mention of it, especially considering the club baseball team is actually quite good. Last year, Wisconsin's baseball team was fifth in the nation among club teams. Also, it has one of the best talents in the country in Ramphis Marrero, a player who could've taken full scholarships from a number of NCAA teams but decided to attend UW for his academics instead. And for those hardcore Wisconsin baseball advocates out there, don't blame Title IX. UW could totally have a baseball team by next season if it wanted one — much of it has nothing to do with Title IX. The most common understanding of Title IX is that NCAA schools need to have the same number of male and female athletes. Therefore, if Wisconsin were to start a baseball team, it would have to add another women's sport or two to make the numbers equal. While that is in fact true, it is only one test of Title IX's three-test system. The second test is as broad as a school simply showing a history and continuing the practice of adding women's sports. The third check is that a school must show that the athletic interests and abilities of its women have been efficiently accommodated. So, if UW were to simply support its women's athletics to the extent of appeasing NCAA rules, the addition of a baseball team would be feasible. But the fact of the matter is Wisconsin doesn't need a baseball team, at least not now. UW sports has a good thing going on right now. The fans and athletic department should embrace and build upon it before looking to expand. Big things are in store for the future — NCAA hockey and volleyball regionals next season and the possibility of landing more, even national championships, in the future. Also, UW is rumored to be planning on building a new cross country course soon — something that is a long time coming after some of the nation's best runners have recently come through the program. Maybe, just maybe, a baseball team will come in time, too. But there's absolutely no need to push for one just yet. Michael is a senior double majoring in journalism and communication arts. He can be reached at [email protected]
This article was published May 3, 2007 at 12:00 am, and last updated May 3, 2007 at 12:00 am.