Jon Marthaler bakes up a delicious batch of links for you every weekend. Other times, you can find him here. Jon?
The boys' hockey state tournament championship games both got around a 5.0 TV rating here in the all-important men 25-to-54 age bracket. To put that in perspective, that's somewhere around four or five times the rating that your typical Wild or Wolves game draws.
This got me wondering, because so far high school sports in Minnesota have avoided any real sense of commodification. When you think about it, though - why not? High school sports aren't all that different from college sports - they're tied to educational institutions and communities, things that people have a natural affinity for. They're played by younger athletes and the level of competition is a lot lower, but that hasn't stopped the NCAA men's basketball tournament from becoming the biggest thing going in American sports (non-football division).
I'm sure that principals and coaches and MSHSL administrators would resist this. But there's nothing magical about the 25-game limit in boys hockey, that if exceeded, will turn all hockey players into dropouts and Communists, or whatever it is we're worried about. And after all, high school hockey in Minnesota already has cutthroat tryouts, and players that move to other towns to play, and guys that leave for other teams or other leagues like the USHL, and leagues that exist outside the high school league, like the Fall Elite League. The state high school league would resist any change to make high school hockey more like junior hockey or more like college hockey, but near as I can tell, closing the front door just makes everyone go through the back door and get extra hockey in other ways.
If nothing else, it's an interesting thing to think about. What would a big-time, commodified Minnesota prep hockey league really look like - and if you think about it, wouldn't you absolutely watch that on TV?
*On with the links:
*I really enjoyed TVFury's Q&A with Patrick Reusse, in which the Twin Cities' best columnist tells his story.
*From Deadspin, the confessions of an NCAA basketball band member, in which "spirit squad" members are basically paid to go on vacation along with their teams. Key quote: "These trips are like living a dream. Every year I nearly fail a class while readjusting to the real world."
*Joe Posnanski, now of NBC Sports, checks in with Cardinals manager Mike Matheny's semi-unwitting attempt to reform youth baseball.
*And finally, three somewhat-out-of-place links: How scrums are ruining rugby union.. How spring training, for a few minutes, turned into youth-league baseball. And a long story, sort of involving Real Madrid, that is a fairly compelling rumination on relationships and mental illness.