There have been a million articles about Big Blue Madness this weekend. I’m sure most of you still can’t get enough. But I think a lot of fans would also like to read about the disparity between what was on display Saturday night when compared to the madness on Friday.
This isn’t another piece about UK spending nearly as much on the light show during Madness as they did recruiting for football during the entire 2011 season. They are plenty of those coming out at this time and I’m going to leave that for someone more informed than me. I just have a proposal to make in regards to the Great Basketball Practice.
As long as I can remember Big Blue Madness has been a big deal and Kentucky basketball fans desperately want to attend it. I’ve never been, but from what I’ve seen on TV, it consists of a dance contest, sometimes a dunk contest, and then a basketball practice where nobody really plays defense. Considering the talent John Calipari is currently able to draw to Lexington, it would be fair to compare BBM to the NBA All-Star game. Plus they have women’s basketball.
People camp out in the cold for a week to get tickets to this event. They give up earned wages, sick days, time with their families, you name it, to live in a tent so that they can attend the opening basketball practice of the season. I’m not going to judge. If Kentucky football had such a celebration and goodwill from fans, I might do the same thing for my passion. My only question is: Why is it free?
Big Blue Madness draws approximately 23,000 fans every year. It is an annual sellout. Yet UK Athletics gives away tickets for free. I can’t help but point out how foolish and short-sighted that is. If UK would have charged as little as $10 per ticket, they would have brought in around $230k. That would almost be enough to pay for the controversial light show. Or the money could be funneled back to the general athletics fund to help other programs built. A $10 price-tag wouldn’t affect ticket sales in the slightest. There is such a high demand they could likely triple that and still always sell out.
It is frustrating to be a Kentucky fan of anything besides the basketball program. Kentucky has risen in the Capital One Cup because the Athletics department raids the football coffers annually to give money to other sports (not including Men’s basketball), while basketball is allowed to run a practice that costs nearly half a million dollars and not even bring any revenue with it. And I don’t buy for a second that BBM is being used as a recruiting tool for other sports. No one who doesn’t play basketball is going to be impressed with such a big ado being made of basketball practice. So the least they could do is put some money back into the Athletic Department.