With a winless volleyball team, a soccer team that has not performed to fan expectations and budget cuts to the Athletic Department that resulted in the loss of the men’s tennis program, the last few months have been hard on Bradley’s Athletic Department.
As such, it is no surprise they are looking for positive stories in any place they can find them. But they overreached with the College Court Report Mascot Tournament.
In the interest of fairness, it would be remiss of us not to note that the Scout’s sports account tweeted about the first-round matchup between Kaboom! and the Oregon Duck. Once we started digging into the tournament and the website running it, however, we stopped.
The tournament contains 64 mascots picked by the operators of the site, which in normal circumstances would not be a problem. However, when you consider the site has exactly 21 Facebook likes and just under 300 Twitter followers, the validity of this contest comes into question.
Why is the Athletic Department so gung-ho to back a contest that is being sponsored by a website that has little impact nationally?
When the tournament’s Twitter account tweeted the matchups for the quarterfinals, the tweets rarely exceeded three mentions from their respective schools. The tweet mentioning Bradley, however, got ten retweets.
By no means is this ripping on the website running the tournament. This is entirely focused on the Athletic Department’s response to what, on the surface, could be a flashy title but is, in fact, meaningless.
Bradley accounts have used the hashtag 32 times since the start of the tournament, which also shows that it is hard to drum up support, even for a tournament that the smallest amount of effort could win.
Of those 32 tweets, 17 of them belong to accounts tied directly to the Athletic Department with three more coming from an account related to Admissions Department.
For comparison’s sake, Michigan State, a school of 50,000 undergraduate students and Kaboom!’s next opponent, also has a hashtag. As of Thursday night, they have never used it.
Of course, the priorities for a school like Michigan State are different than a school like Bradley. But should they be?
There is no reason Bradley’s Athletic Department should not strive to be like Michigan State. If Bradley truly believes it can compete at the Division I level, they should act like it.
The press release sent out to members of the media, including the Scout, started with the phrase “I was just informed via Twitter.” That should have been the biggest clue that this contest was not nearly as important as it initially seemed.
Additionally, they are posting on fan forums to drum up votes, using official athletic channels to push voters toward a site that clearly states, at the bottom, the images it uses come from Google image search results.
The Athletic Department wants students and athletes to “B the Brand,” but who wants to associate themselves with a brand that jumps at the first chance for positive press it can get?
If we could get the student body to embrace the teams that are actually playing meaningful tournaments as much as the Athletic Department has embraced whatever this is, it would be fantastic. But for whatever reason, that is not the case.
Adding the title of “College Court Report Mascot Tournament Champion” in front of Kaboom! will not put more students in the seats. It’s time to put this “tournament” to rest and focus on the real issue at hand: our athletic teams and the students that should be supporting them.