Doubleheaders may be dying

Marcus Traxler

Marcus TraxlerAssistant Sports Editor

“Let’s play two.” Maybe not anymore.

The Summit League joint council approved a switch to mirror scheduling, which means that all men’s and women’s conference contests would be on Thursdays and Saturdays, starting in 2012-2013.

The teams would play at opposite locations, meaning if the women are home, the men would be on the road. Currently, the men play on Thursdays and Saturdays, while the women play on Saturdays and Mondays.

League presidents will vote on the matter in March when the schools converge on Sioux Falls for the Summit League Basketball Championships.

The change would almost certainly end doubleheaders at Frost Arena, which have been a staple at SDSU since the North Central Conference days. Doubleheaders are used by many teams in the conference to help boost attendance, but some teams don’t draw fans, regardless when the game is played.

“From our standpoint at SDSU, doubleheaders are huge and have been a big part of our culture. The vote was going to be unanimous outside of us. I’m not that enamored with the fact of not having doubleheaders and dealing with mirror scheduling, but to move the league forward and based on some of those limitations, we needed to do it,” said SDSU athletic director Justin Sell.

The move is good for the players – especially the women – because it would give them a legitimate day off on Sunday where they would not have classes or practice. Currently, the women do not have a day during the conference schedule where they are off from both activities.

“It’s really hard to go in and look at your student-athletes in the face and tell them “Hey, for three months you’re going to have no days off,” Sell said.

Changing the schedule format is also a worry amongst fans, who may be traveling in from all around the state, to choose between women’s and men’s games on weeknights.

“The other schools have built their men’s program around the Thursday-Saturday and were unwilling to make a sacrifice. We’re a little unique at SDSU because we average 2,500 to 3,000 people for every women’s game. Unfortunately, we’re the one school that it negatively impacts in a big way,” Sell said.

There is some hope to keep a few twin-bills on the schedule through some creative scheduling.

“We’re already looking at working with our men’s and women’s programs to try to setup some out-of-conference doubleheaders and certainly with our travel partner, NDSU, hopefully we can make that a doubleheader.”

Many fans’ season ticket plans, which are currently good for both men’s and women’s games on doubleheader nights, could potentially be split.

“Men’s basketball is starting to pick it up and we were going to get to the point of having to consider how we would do season tickets for men’s and women’s basketball based on demand anyway,” Sell said.

More games every week means it will be tougher for the school to continue to draw fans in their doors, unless the Jacks are winning.

“Ultimately, winning cures a lot of things. People want to see winning teams and if either [the men or women] are struggling it’s going to be hard to come to Brookings every Thursday and Saturday in January and February,” Sell said.