Buffalo Pro v. College sports

Posted: January 23, 2013 in Sports

Buffalo, New York is a sports town, or so we are led to believe. Buffalo, is a Pro sports town, or Major sports town if that term works better. I for one have never had the pleasure of attending a college sporting event, but from what I have seen and the information I have it would seem that I am missing out; unless we are talking about our local colleges.

Buffalo has a rich history of Pro sports. It has both a NHL team and a NFL team. Sabres and Bills respectfully. It’s a feather in the cap to have 2 out of the 4 major / pro sports leagues in your city. But when you look deeper in to these teams history one can’t help but wonder why the sports crazed city keeps flocking to these teams.

The Buffalo Bills have an overall record of 370-426-8 (pro-football-refference.com) their last playoff appearance was way back in 1999. For those of you keeping count that is 13 years without a playoff team. The Bills last had a winning season in 2002. In all actuality the Bills have only had 4 or 5 really good years. And have ridden on the coat tails of the Super Bowls trips for far too long. With over 70,000 fans packing the Ralph for about 6 games a year it just doesn’t make sense to keep spending money and flocking to a losing team. A team that I contend is one of the worse NFL teams ever. Fans are not getting the bang for the buck that they should.

The Buffalo Sabres on the other hand do give us a little more hope, but not much.  Their record over a 41 year existence is 1569-1219-409 with a .553 win percentage. However they too have nothing to show for all the fan support they get. The Sabres have been to the finals only 2 times in those 41 years, and as for playoffs; a deep run is almost always out of the question. There is no arguing that Hockey may be number one is buffalo, but by the numbers It is number 2 for value.

Buffalo’s last “major” sports team is the Buffalo Bandits. Yes lacrosse. The Bandits home games are the closest thing to a college atmosphere you will find in Buffalo.  And, with the Bandits you do get the record to support fans going to their games. They made the playoffs every year from 92-98 and have won 4 titles.  They are a playoff caliber team every year and have a fierce fan base.

Why doesn’t Buffalo support college sports? I believe the answer lies in miss guided information, and a lack of media coverage for the schools. If you listen to the local sports station you will almost never hear anything about local College sports. Unless one of our teams just got ripped apart by a BIG school.  I think of UB football here. Every year the school is a whipping post for some hot shot school looking for a tune up game. And UB is more than happy to cash in on their athletes getting the snot kicked out of them.

With the population of young people dwindling in Buffalo it’s hard to get behind a College. In Buffalo people will not go watch a college just because. They need a personal connection to the School. For generations our local colleges have been putting out a subpar athletic program. Excluding Bonnies basketball, and Purple Eagles Hockey. Those teams may be worth the drive to go watch. But, then again they are hindered by the drive. It’s a location thing. If a school wants Buffalo sports fan to attend, they need to come to Buffalo. Its’ not right, but that’s how it is here.

Buffalo has been called a sports town with a drinking problem, and that may be another issue with college sports. Fan can’t drink beer at the games. For some reason going to a game is not enough for many fans. They use the games as an excuse to drink and act likes jerks.  Again it’s a Buffalo thing. If you want to grow a fan base bring on the beer.

With no real college sports history to attract a fan base; colleges face a hard task. Winning draws fans, winning will increases local awareness. But, local colleges are at a disadvantage. Most of the local colleges are “Book” schools, not athletic schools and there is a big difference.  If they want sports fans they need to find a middle ground and push towards being a athletic school. Look at the SEC, and ACC to name a few. Good if not great schools, but they market their sports first and then their teachings through that. One is a gate way to the other. If you do it the other way you will always stay a second or third class citizen in your own back yard.

I for one enjoy watching college sports, and pro sports. But, I am a sports guy.  However, I will not watch a bad college game. That is because the local college teams have done nothing to grab my interest. Sampling existing is not enough in a market where money and people alike are tough.


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